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December 1968

Stimulus and Response: The Law of Initial Value.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1968;19(6):765-766. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1968.01740120125022

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For nearly 40 years Dr. Joseph Wilder has been writing and speaking about "The Law of Initial Value" (LIV); for the most part, at least until recently, his statements have made little impact. (One is tempted to describe his as a voice in the wilderness!) In this country the principle was ignored by psychiatric researchers until brought to our attention by Lacey in 1956. Yet it remains far less widely known than it should be. The "Law" is simple enough. It indicates that:

Given a standard stimulus and a standard period of time, the extent and direction of response of a physiological function at rest depends to a large measure on its initial (pre-experimental) level. The relations are as follows: the higher the initial value, the smaller the response to function-raising, and the larger the response to function-depressing stimuli. Beyond a certain medium range of initial

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