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Abstract

This article reminisces about the life and career of Jan Mazurkiewicz, one of the most outstanding Polish psychiatrists – the author of Psychophysiological Theory, an original conception of mental disease based on the theory of evolution and dissolution of the nervous system developed by the Englishneurologist John Hughlings Jackson. Professor Jan Mazurkiewicz was an active organizer of psychiatric care. He was co-founder and director of hospitals in Kochanówka and Kobierzyn. He held the rank of Associate Professor at the John Casimir University in Lviv and the position of Professor at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. From 1919 until his death in 1947, Professor Jan Mazurkiewicz was the head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Warsaw. For twenty three years, starting from 1924, he was the president of the Polish Psychiatric Association. The Mazurkiewicz's Psychopathological Theory provides a natural model of development of the highest psychic functions. Damage to a higher evolutionary level of the nervous system leads to the activation of the previously suppressed lower levels, transformed by the pathogen into psychopathological symptoms. Mazurkiewicz's scientific thought was adopted and developed by his student andthen, collaborator, Professor Mieczysław Kaczyński, who was later to become the head of the Department of Psychiatry in Lublin. This work discusses the research conducted at Lublin's Department of Psychiatry which expands on Mazurkiewicz's theory

Abstract

In creating his Psychophysiological Theory, Jan Mazurkiewicz transplanted John Hughlings Jackson’s method into the field of psychiatry. Like his precursor, he distinguished four evolutionary levels, but this time with regard to mental activity. According to Mazurkiewicz’s approach, disease is the reverse of evolution. Doing damage to the highest evolutionary level, it allows evolutionarily lower levels to take control of the patient’s psyche. Distorted by the etiological factor, the lower mental levels manifest as mental disease. In his Psychophysiological Theory, Mazurkiewicz distinguishes three types of dissolution: intra-level dissolution (psychoneuroses), slow dissolution or dissociation proper (schizophrenia), and rapid, delirium-like dissolution (impaired consciousness). Kaczyński noted that, based on an in-depth analysis of the phylogenetic and ontogenetic development of the successive evolutionary levels of the nervous system, Mazurkiewicz transposed the principles of the Jacksonian concept of hierarchical evolution – dissolution. Within a dozen or so years from birth to maturity, the process of evolution of mankind is recapitulated, with the speed of lightning, in an individual – from instincts, which are phylogenetically the oldest, to the highest functions of the frontal lobes. The present paper makes mention of research conducted at Lublin’s Department of Psychiatry which expands on Mazurkiewicz’s theory.