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Hans Selye was the son of János Selye, a renowned Hungarian academic, in honor of whom his name was given to the Komárom University and a secondary school in the same city. His father met an Austrian lady and shortly after living in Vienna gave birth to Hans, who was legally named Hungarian. He completed his basic studies and superiors in Vienna and after the Second World War was forced to emigrate to North America, settling in Canada. In 1950 he published his most famous research, “Stress”, a study on anxiety.
Hans Selye was born in Vienna in 1907. Already in the second year of his medical studies (1926) he began to develop his famous theory about the influence of stress on the ability of people to cope or adapt to the consequences of injuries or diseases. He discovered that patients with a variety of ailments manifested many similar symptoms, which could be attributed to the body’s efforts to respond to the stress of being sick. He called this collection of symptoms Stress Syndrome, or General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS).
From the thesis, the stress or general adaptation syndrome went on to summarize a whole set of psychophysiological symptoms. Selye was able to separate the physical effects of stress from other symptoms suffered by his patients through his research. He observed that his patients suffered from physical disorders that were not caused directly by his illness or by his medical condition.
His professor initially during the thesis management of Seyle injected crushed preparations of ovary of humans, pretending to find a spice of new hormone apart from estrogen and progestogens. Seyle tired of seeing again and again the same “general syndromes” in mice, try other types of products, proteins, various chemical substances, etc. and concludes that there is a minimum common denominator of what we call “being sick”. Hans Seyle lived in a boarding house with students and engineering doctorates who used to mention at the breaks his work on “strain”, the process of fatigue suffered by materials over time, Seyle told them that something similar happened to mice and that this happened with the rest of living beings. When he published in Science his famous work with the word “stress”, his fellow residents congratulated him, both for publishing in that important magazine, and for having invented that wonderful word. He was surprised, said he had not invented it, which was the word they used as engineers to describe the fatigue that happens in the materials. What had happened was that since his English was not perfect yet, he had gotten confused thinking that they said “stress”. When he spoke with his thesis director and other scientists about his confusion and that he could change the word, he was told not to think of it, and the scientific community had accepted the precious word, and Seyle had forged a name in the history of medicine.
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