“Without Ivanov Mikhailovich, with their dignity and duty, every state is doomed to perish from within, in spite of any Dnieprostroi and Volkhovstroi. Because the state should not consist of cars, not of bees and ants, but of representatives of the highest species of the animal kingdom, Homo sapiens. ”
The first Russian Nobel laureate, academician I.P. Pavlov.
The first Russian Nobel laureate, academician I.P. Pavlov.
Ivan Sechenov was born 13 August 1829 was in a noble family in the village of Teply Stan, lying in the Simbirsk province (today the village of Sechenovo in the Nizhny Novgorod region). His father's name was Mikhail Alekseevich, and he was a military man. Sechenov Sr. served in the Preobrazhensky Guards Regiment and retired with the rank of second major. Ivan's mother, Anisya Yegorovna, was an ordinary peasant woman who was freed from serfdom after she married her master. In his memoirs, Sechenov wrote with love: “My clever, kind, sweet mother was beautiful in her youth, although according to legend there was an admixture of Kalmyk blood in her blood. Of all the children, I went to the black relatives of the mother and from her acquired the appearance by which Metchnikov, who had returned from traveling on the Nogai steppe, told me that in these Palestinians that neither Tatar, nor Sechenov was cast ... "
The village of Teply Stan, in which Vanya spent his childhood, belonged to two landowners - the western part of it was the property of Peter Filatov, and the eastern part was of Mikhail Alekseevich. The Sechenovs had a good two-story house in which the whole big family lived - Ivan had four brothers and three sisters. The head of the family had difficulty keeping his children - he had no capital, and the income from the estate was small. Despite this, Mikhail Alekseevich perfectly understood the importance of education and considered it his duty to give it to children. However, when it was time to give Ivan to the Kazan gymnasium that had already been assigned to him, Sechenov Sr. died. After the death of his father, Van had to say goodbye to thoughts about the gymnasium. At the same time, his elder brother returned to the village from Moscow. It was he who told mother that education in St. Petersburg at the Main School of Engineering was fairly inexpensive (the contribution was only 285 rubles for four years, and the student was dressed, fed and taught for this modest amount), the education received is quite solid (at school people studied engineering and mathematics in detail), and the profession of a military engineer is considered prestigious. This story made a proper impression on Anisya Egorovna, and soon Vanya was sent to the Northern capital.
In mid-August, 1843, Ivan Mikhailovich, was admitted to the Main Military Engineering School, in which other famous Russian people were trained - the hero of Sevastopol, General Edward Totleben, writers Fyodor Dostoevsky and Dmitry Grigorovich. After studying in the lower classes for five years, Sechenov failed the examinations in construction art and fortification, and therefore instead of being transferred to the officer class in June, 1848 with the rank of ensign was sent to serve in the second engineer battalion stationed in Kiev. The military service was unable to satisfy the inquisitive nature of Sechenov, and, after serving in the demining battalion for less than two years, Ivan Mikhailovich decided to resign. In January, 1850 with the rank of second lieutenant, he retired from military service, and in October he signed up as a volunteer for the medical faculty of Moscow University.
The rules at the university in the capital at that time were incredibly strict. For a student, going without a sword to the street or a peaked cap, worn instead of a cocked hat, was considered a serious offense. In addition to his superiors, it was necessary to pay tribute to all the counter military generals. The "disorder" in uniform was strictly punished. For this, by the way, the well-known doctor Sergey Botkin subsequently suffered - for an unbuttoned collar of his uniform, he was put in a cold punishment cell for a day. In his student years, Ivan Mikhailovich himself lived extremely modestly, removing tiny rooms. The money that his mother sent him was barely enough for food, and besides, it was necessary to still make money for tuition. The first lecture given by Ivan Mikhailovich at the university was on anatomy. A gray-haired professor read it in Latin, which Sechenov did not know at that moment, however, thanks to diligence and his exceptional abilities, he quickly learned. In general, the diligent and thoughtful student Sechenov was engaged at first very diligently. In his own words, in junior courses he dreamed of devoting himself to comparative anatomy. This discipline was taught by famous professor Ivan Glebov. Sechenov liked his lectures, and he willingly attended the classes of Ivan Timofeevich.
After several years of study, Ivan Mikhailovich began to study therapy and general pathology, which was read by Professor Alexei Polunin - the then medical body, the founder of the country's first department of pathological anatomy. However, having familiarized with the main medical subjects closer, the young man suddenly became disillusioned with medicine. Subsequently, he wrote: “The fault of my medicine was that I did not find in it what I expected - bare empiricism instead of theories ... There is nothing but listing the symptoms of the disease and the causes of the disease, the methods of treatment and its outcomes. And there is no information about how the disease develops from the reasons, what its essence is and why this or that medicine helps. The diseases themselves did not give rise to the slightest interest in me, since there were no keys to understanding their meaning ... ” For clarification, Sechenov turned to Alexei Polunin, who answered him like this: “Dear sir, would you like to jump higher than your head? .. A young man, generally speaking, understand that knowledge does not come only from books - they are mainly , extracted by practical means. You will be treated, you will be mistaken. And when you pass this complex science in your patients, then you can be called a doctor. ”
It is possible that Ivan Mikhailovich would have left medicine as easily as he had said goodbye to military service, if he did not meet the outstanding surgeon Fyodor Inozemtsev. Professor's passion for the role of the sympathetic nervous system in the development of many diseases, his striking prediction of the importance of the nervous system in studying diseases caused great interest in the young man. On the basis of the works of Fyodor Ivanovich, the first scientific article of Sechenov appeared, "Can the nerves affect nutrition?"
In 1855, when Ivan Mikhailovich had already switched to the fourth year, his mother suddenly died. After the death of Anisya Yegorovna, the sons divided the inheritance. Sechenov immediately refused the rights to the estate and asked for money. The share of it was several thousand rubles, and the only "property" received by Ivan Mikhailovich in the property, became a serf servant Theophanes, whom the future scientist immediately procured his freedom.
The course of study at the metropolitan university of Sechenov graduated from among the three most capable students and was forced to take not standard medicine, but much more complex, doctoral final exams. After their defense in June 1856, he received a certificate of approval to the degree of doctor "with the right to defend his thesis for the degree of doctor of medicine." After passing the exams, Ivan Mikhailovich himself finally became convinced that medicine was not his vocation, having chosen physiology as a new direction of his activity. Since abroad, this young science was at a higher level, Ivan Mikhailovich decided to leave his homeland for a while.
Sechenov decided to start studying with chemistry and chose the city of Berlin as the first stop. The laboratory of medical chemistry was run there by a young and talented scientist Felix Hopppe-Seiler. Together with him, Sechenov studied the chemical compositions of liquids entering the bodies of animals. During this internship, he found a significant mistake in the works of the famous French physiologist Claude Bernard. The publication of this data brought fame to the young physiologist among European colleagues.
Even in his student years, young Sechenov was a permanent member of the literary circle of Apollo Grigoriev. In addition to poetry readings, this circle was famous for its rampant revels, in which the “father of Russian physiology” took the most active part. For Ivan Mikhailovich, ultimately, participation in these drinking bouts was not in vain, - already in Berlin, he had a plan to investigate the effect of alcohol poisoning on the human body. Scientific coverage of acute alcohol poisoning later became the basis of his doctoral dissertation. All research Sechenov carried out in two versions - with the use of alcohol and under normal conditions. The young scientist conducted a study of the effect of alcohol on the nerves and muscles on animals (in particular, frogs) and on himself.
In winter, 1856, Ivan Mikhailovich, listened to a series of lectures on electrophysiology from the German physiologist Emile Dubois-Raymond — a new field of study that studies physiological processes by changing the electrical potentials that occur in the tissues and organs of the body. The audience of this prominent scientist was small, only seven people, and among them a couple of Russians - Botkin and Sechenov. In addition, for the year of his stay in Berlin, Ivan Mikhailovich attended Rosa’s lectures on analytical chemistry, Johannes Muller on comparative anatomy, Magnus on physics. In the spring of 1858, Sechenov traveled to Vienna and settled down to the famous physiologist of those years, Professor Karl Ludwig, who was famous for his work on blood circulation. According to Sechenov, Ludwig was "an international luminary of physiology for young scientists from around the world, which was promoted by his pedagogical skills and wealth of knowledge." In his laboratory, a Russian scientist continued his research on the effect of alcohol on blood circulation. All summer 1858, Ivan Mikhailovich, was the only one who was engaged in pumping gases from the blood. However, all the methods for this, which scientists used at that time, were unsatisfactory, and after a long search and reflection, the twenty-nine-year-old Russian scientist managed to construct a new absorptiometer that remained in stories under the name "pump Sechenov."
The next point of study of Ivan Mikhailovich was the University of Heidelberg, where professors Hermann Helmholtz and Robert Bunsen, most popular in Europe, taught. In the Helmholtz laboratory, Sechenov conducted four important scientific studies - the effect of stimulation of the vagus nerve on the heart, the study of the speed of contractions of frog muscles, the study of physiological optics and the study of gases contained in milk. And chemist Bunsen Sechenov attended a course in inorganic chemistry. Curious is the memory left by Ivan Mikhailovich about his new teacher: “Bunsen perfectly lectured and had a habit of sniffing before the audience all described odorous substances, no matter how bad and harmful smells were. There were stories that once he had sniffed something before fainting. For his weakness to explosives, he had already paid an eye for a long time, but in his lectures he made explosions at every opportunity, and then solemnly showed the remnants of the last compound on a pierced bottom ... Bunsen was everyone's favorite, and young people called him “Papa Bunsen” despite the fact that he was not yet an old man. ”
Visiting Berlin, Vienna, Leipzig and Heidelberg, Ivan Mikhailovich fully implemented the program, which he himself had compiled for the purpose of comprehensive and in-depth study of experimental physiology. The result of these works was the completion of the doctoral dissertation, which was sent to St. Petersburg to the Medical-Surgical Academy, where its defense was to take place. This work, modestly named by the author "Materials for the physiology of alcohol poisoning," stood out for its profound scientific insight into the essence of the topic, the wealth of experimental data and the breadth of the problem. In February, Sechenov’s 1860 dissertation was published in the Military Medical Journal.
February evening 1860 Ivan Mikhailovich arrived home on the mail stage. In early March, he successfully defended his thesis and became a doctor of medicine. At the same time, the council of the Medical-Surgical Academy allowed him to take examinations for the right to acquire the title of adjunct professor. Having passed these exams, Sechenov received an offer to teach physiology, and a couple of weeks later he read his first lecture. The very first speeches of a thirty-year-old professor attracted general interest. His reports were distinguished not only by clarity and simplicity of presentation, but also by the saturation of facts, as well as by the unusual content. One of his assistants wrote: “And now, many years later, I must say that I have never in my life met a lecturer with such talent, either earlier or later. He had an excellent diction, but the power of logic in his reasoning was especially shocking ... ” In mid-April, Ivan Mikhailovich was appointed as an adjunct professor at the Department of Physiology, and in March 1861 was unanimously elected as an extraordinary professor (that is, not occupying a department or supernumerary) at the conference of the Medical-Surgical Academy.
In September, 1861 in the Medical Herald published a public lecture by a scientist on plant acts in animal life. In them, Sechenov first formulated the concept of the connection of organisms with the environment. And in the summer of next year, Ivan Mikhailovich again went abroad for a year and worked in the Paris laboratory of the famous Claude Bernard, the founder of endocrinology. There he managed to discover the nervous mechanisms of "central (or Sechenov) inhibition." This work, highly appreciated by Claude Bernard, was subsequently dedicated to the German researcher Carl Ludwig with the words: "To his esteemed teacher and friend." Nor did he stop raising his education - on the same trip, Sechenov managed to take a course in thermometry at the famous College de France.
In the fall of 1861, a scientist met Maria Side and her friend Nadezhda Suslova. Young women eagerly wanted to become certified doctors, but they could not get to the university - in Russia at that time the way to higher education for women was closed. Then Suslova and Bokova, in spite of difficulties, decided to attend lectures at the Medical-Surgical Academy as volunteers. Ivan Mikhailovich eagerly helped them in the study of medicine. At the end of the academic year, he offered his students various topics for scientific research, and later Maria Alexandrovna and Nadezhda Prokofievna not only wrote doctoral dissertations, but also successfully defended them in Zurich. Nadezhda Suslova became the first Russian woman doctor, and Maria Bokova became the wife of Sechenov and his indispensable assistant in scientific research.
In May, 1863 Ivan Mikhailovich returned to St. Petersburg and published his latest works in print - essays on "animal" electricity. These works Sechenov made a lot of noise, and in mid-June, the Academy of Sciences awarded him the Demidov Prize. All summer, Ivan Mikhailovich himself was engaged in the creation of his famous scientific work called “Reflexes of the brain”, which academician Pavlov dubbed “the brilliant stroke of Sechenov's thought”. In this work, the scientist for the first time convincingly proved that the entire mental life of people, all their behavior is strongly associated with external stimuli, "and not with some mysterious soul." Any irritation, according to Sechenov, causes a particular response of the nervous system — a reflex in a different way. Ivan Mikhailovich experimentally showed that if the dog "turned off" his sight, hearing and smell, he would sleep all the time, because no stimuli would come to his brain from the outside world.
This work of the scientist broke the veil of mystery, which was surrounded by the mental life of man. Joy, sadness, ridicule, passion, animation - all these phenomena of brain life, according to Sechenov, were expressed as a result of less or more relaxation or shortening of a certain muscle group - a purely mechanical act. Of course, such conclusions have created a storm of protest in society. Some censor Veselovsky in a memorandum noted that the works of Sechenov "undermine the political and moral principles, as well as the religious beliefs of people." Privy Councilor Przhetslavsky (by the way, the second censor of the Ministry of the Interior) accused Ivan Mikhailovich of having reduced the man “to the state of a clean car”, dispels “all moral social foundations and destroys the religious tenets of the future life”. Already in the beginning of October, the Minister of the Interior prohibited 1863 from publishing in the journal “Sovremennik” the work of a scientist called “Attempts to introduce physiological principles into mental processes”. However, this essay under the modified title “Reflexes of the brain” was published in Medical Herald.
In April, 1864 Sechenov was approved as an ordinary professor of physiology, and two years later, Ivan Mikhailovich decided to release the main work of his life as a separate book. On this occasion, Interior Minister Pyotr Valuyev informed Prince Urusov, the head of the Ministry of Justice: “In a publicly available book, to explain, though from a physiological point of view, the internal movements of a person result from external influences on nerves, does it not mean to put the teachings on the immortality of the spirit in place recognizing in man only one matter. The work of Sechenov I recognize an indisputable harmful direction. ” The circulation of the book was under arrest, and the scientist's materialistic views triggered a new wave of persecution from the authorities. The news of the initiation of a lawsuit against him Sechenov met very calmly. To all suggestions of friends for help in finding a good lawyer, Ivan Mikhailovich replied: “And why did he need me? I will bring an ordinary frog with me to court and do all my experiments before the judges - let the prosecutor then refute me. ” Fearing to be scandalous not only in front of the whole of Russian society, but also in the scientific Europe, the government decided to abandon the judicial process and, reluctantly, allowed to publish the book “Reflexes of the Brain”. In late August, the 1867 arrest from its publication was lifted, and the work of Sechenov saw the light. However, the great physiologist - the pride and beauty of Russia - remained “politically unreliable” for life for the tsarist government.
In 1867-1868, Ivan Mikhailovich worked in the Austrian town of Graz, in the scientific laboratory of his friend Alexander Rollet. There he discovered the effects of trace and summation in the nerve centers of living organisms and wrote the work “On chemical and electrical stimulation of the spinal nerves of frogs”. In the Russian Academy of Sciences at that time there was not a single Russian name in the category of natural sciences, and at the end of 1869 Ivan Mikhailovich was elected a corresponding member of this scientific institution. And in December 1870 Sechenov voluntarily left the Medico-Surgical Academy. He committed this act as a protest against the ballotting of his close friend Ilya Mechnikov, who was nominated as a professor. Sechenov’s departure marked the beginning of a whole “tradition” - over the next eighty years, the heads of the department of physiology left the academy under various circumstances, but always with resentment.
After leaving the department, Sechenov remained unemployed for some time, until an old friend and colleague Dmitry Mendeleev offered him to work in his laboratory. Sechenov accepted the proposal and took up the chemistry of solutions, while simultaneously delivering lectures at the artists' club. In March, he received an invitation from 1871 from the University of Novorossiysk and worked in Odessa as a professor of physiology until 1876. During these years, Ivan Mikhailovich, without ceasing to study the physiology of the nervous system, made major discoveries in the field of absorption from the tissues and the release of carbon dioxide by the blood. Also during these years, Ivan Mikhailovich discovered the mechanism of muscular feeling (in other words, proprioception), which allows people, even with their eyes closed, to realize the positions of their bodies. The English scientist Charles Sherrintong, who made such a discovery, always recognized the priority of Ivan Mikhailovich, however, only he received the Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology at 1932, since Sechenov had already passed away.
In the eighties of the nineteenth century, the name of Sechenov was no less popular in the scientific world than in the literary world — the name of Chernyshevsky. However, it was no less “popular” at the top of the government. In November, 1873, according to the presentation of six academicians, Ivan Mikhailovich ran for associate professor of physiology at the Academy of Sciences. The huge list of discoveries and works of the scientist was so impressive, and the academicians who had nominated him were so authoritative that at the branch meeting he was elected 14 by vote against 7. However, a month later the general meeting of the Academy of Sciences passed, and Ivan Mikhailovich took two votes away - these two votes were the privilege of the president of the Academy. This is how the doors of this institution closed before the great Russian scientist, just as they closed for Stoletov, Mendeleev, Lebedev, Timiryazev, Mechnikov - world-famous scientists, the best representatives of Russian science. There is nothing surprising, by the way, in the non-election of Ivan Mikhailovich was not. From the point of view of the majority of academicians, the physiologist who wrote “Reflexes of the brain”, propagandizing the “English revolutionary Darwin” to the right and left, the seditious person and materialist could not count on being in the circle of the “immortals”.
In the spring of 1876, Sechenov returned to the city on the Neva and took the place of professor at the Department of Physiology, Histology and Anatomy of the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, St. Petersburg University. In this place in 1888 a scientist organized a separate laboratory of physiology. Along with his work at the university, Sechenov lectured at the Bestuzhev Higher Women's Courses - one of the creators of which he was. At the new place, Ivan Mikhailovich, as always, launched advanced physiological research. By that time, he had already completed in general works concerning the physicochemical laws of gas distribution in artificial saline solutions and blood, and in 1889 he managed to derive the “Sechenov equation” - an empirical formula linking the solubility of gas in an electrolytic solution with its concentration and which initiated the study of human gas exchange.
It should be noted that Ivan, being an extraordinarily versatile person, was interested in all aspects of social and scientific life. Among his closest friends were such famous personalities as Ivan Turgenev, Vasily Klyuchevsky and Fyodor Dostoevsky. It is curious that contemporaries considered Ivan Mikhailovich the prototype of Bazarov in the novel “Fathers and Sons” and Kirsanov in the novel “What to do?”. A friend and disciple of Sechenov, Clement Timiryazev wrote about him: “Hardly any modern physiologist has such a broad coverage in his field of research, starting with research in the field of gas dissolution and ending with research in the field of nervous physiology and strictly scientific psychology ... If we add to this the remarkably simple form in which he wraps his ideas, it will become clear the enormous influence that Sechenov had on Russian thought, on Russian science far beyond his specialty and his audience. ” By the way, as a scientist, Ivan Mikhailovich was unusually lucky. Each new work has always presented him with a significant and important discovery, and the physiologist generously put these gifts into the treasury of world science. Sechenov, who received an excellent physico-mathematical and engineering education, effectively applied knowledge in his scientific activities, using, among other things, such approaches that were later called cybernetics. In addition, the scientist prepared (although not published) a course in higher mathematics. According to the words of Academician Krylov, “of all biologists, only Helmholtz (by the way, a major physicist) knew Mathematics as well as Sechenov.”
Despite all the merits of the scientist, his bosses took him out with difficulty, and in 1889 Ivan Mikhailovich was forced to leave St. Petersburg. The physiologist himself said with irony: "I decided to change my professorship to a more modest private associate professor in Moscow." However, there the scientist continued to put obstacles and interfere with his beloved work. Ivan Mikhailovich could not refuse his research work, and Karl Ludwig, who was a professor at Leipzig University, who understood everything perfectly well, wrote to his student that while he was alive, there would always be a place for a Russian friend in his laboratory. Thus, in the laboratory, Ludwig Sechenov conducted experiments and was engaged in physiological research, and in Moscow he only read lectures. In addition, the scientist led classes in women's courses at the Society of teachers and educators. This continued until 1891, until Sheremetevsky, a professor in the department of physiology, passed away, and a vacancy did not appear at Moscow University. By that time, Ivan Mikhailovich had completely completed research on the theory of solutions, which, by the way, were highly appreciated in the academic world and were confirmed by chemists in the coming years. After that, Sechenov engaged in gas exchange, having designed a number of original devices and developed his own methods for studying the exchange of gases between tissues and blood and between the external environment and the organism. Admitting that “studying breathing on the move” was always an impossible task, Sechenov began to study the gas exchange of the human body in dynamics. In addition, he paid much attention, as in the old days, to neuromuscular physiology, publishing the generalizing capital work “Physiology of the Nervous Centers”.
In everyday life, the famous physiologist was a modest man, content with very little. Even his closest friends did not know that Sechenov had such high awards as the Order of St. Stanislav of the first degree, the Order of St. Vladimir of the third degree, and the Order of St. Anna of the third degree. Together with his wife, in his free time from work, he translated Charles Darwin into Russian “The Origin of Man” and was a popularizer of evolutionary studies in our country. It is also worth noting that the scientist was opposed to any experiments on living people. If he needed to run experiments on a human body while he was working, then Ivan Mikhailovich checked everything only on himself. To do this, he, a lover of rare wines, had to not only ingest undiluted alcohol, but once he had to drink a flask with tubercular chopsticks in order to prove that only a weakened organism was susceptible to this infection. This direction, by the way, was later developed by his student Ilya Mechnikov. In addition, Sechenov did not recognize serfdom and, before he died, he sent out to the peasants of his estate Teply Stan six thousand rubles - according to his calculations, he spent that amount at the expense of his mother’s serfs on his education.
In December 1901, at the age of 72, Ivan Mikhailovich left teaching at Moscow University and retired. After leaving the service, Sechenov’s life was on a quiet and peaceful course. He continued to conduct experimental work, and in 1903-1904, he even took up teaching for workers (Prechistinsky courses), but the authorities quickly imposed a ban on it. He lived together with Mari Alexandrovna (with whom he had sealed his union with the sacrament of the wedding in 1888) in Moscow in a clean and comfortable apartment. He had a small circle of acquaintances and friends who were going to his musical and card evenings. In the meantime, the Russian-Japanese war broke out - Port Arthur was surrendered, the tsarist army was defeated near Mukden, and the fleet sent to the aid from the Baltic Sea almost died in the battle of Tsushima. In these days, Ivan Mikhailovich wrote in his memoirs: "... It’s a misfortune to be an old man who is not good for anything in such a difficult time - to suffer from anxious expectations and to wring useless hands ...". However, the hands of the scientist were not useless. Soon after the tsarist officials forbade him to work on the Prechistensky courses, Ivan Mikhailovich prepared another of his works for publication, bringing together all the studies on the absorption of carbonic acid by saline solutions. And then the scientist began a new study on the physiology of labor. Back in 1895, he published an article that was unique for the time, such as “Criteria for setting the duration of a working day”, where he scientifically proved that the working day should not be more than eight hours. Also in this work was first introduced such a thing as "active recreation".
A terrible disease for the elderly - a croupous inflammation of the lungs - suddenly struck Sechenov in the autumn of 1905. The premonition of an imminent death did not deceive the seventy-six-year-old scientist - he lost consciousness in the morning of November 15, and around the twelve nights of Ivan Mikhailovich was gone. The great physiologist was buried at the Vagankovo cemetery in a simple wooden coffin. A few years later, the remains of Sechenov were transferred to the Novodevichy cemetery. After himself, Sechenov left many students and a colossal legacy in the field of medicine and psychology. At home, a monument was erected to Ivan Mikhailovich, and in 1955, the name of Sechenov was given to the capital's medical institute. It is worth noting that St. Luke Voyno-Yasenetsky in his writings emphasized that the theories of Sechenov and his follower Ivan Pavlov on the central nervous system are fully consistent with Orthodox dogma.
According to the book M.I. Yanovskaya "Sechenov" and the site http://chtoby-pomnili.com/