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August 1957

Significance of Preexperimental Studies in the Psychosomatic Laboratory

Author Affiliations


From the Institute for Psychosomatic and Psychiatric Research and Training of the Michael Reese Hospital.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1957;78(2):207-219. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1957.02330380097014

Introduction  It is traditional in medical research to utilize measurements of "basal states" as part of experimental procedures. The subject is first observed in a period of assumed stability and then again after the introduction of an agent that presumably alters the particular system under investigation. Comparison of responses under these two conditions may reveal the effect of the experimental agent. Psychosomatic research has also used this method, particularly in the so-called stress experiments. However, difficulties arise when the assumption is made that the "basal state" literally signifies that the subject is physiologically and psychologically at rest.As Kaplan1 has recently shown, "ordinary" medical laboratory procedures may constitute an emotional stress for uninformed subjects. The experimental setting is more threatening to the subject who has only a vague conception of the procedure. Often he meets new personnel, enters a strange room, and is exposed to complex apparatus. When a

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