Alfred Korzybski

Extracts from “Science and Sanity” written by Alfred Korzybski in 1933:


It is quite remarkable that ‘mental’ therapy…is only successful when it succeeds in making the patient not only ‘rationalize’ his difficulties but also makes him ‘emotionalize’ -live through again, so to say, and evaluate anew-his past experiences. This process can be compared with a glass of water in which some chalky sediment lies on the bottom…the different ‘hurts,’ etc., may be compared to the water and the sediment. ‘Rationalization’ alone is like throwing away the clean water and letting the sediment remain. No improvement follows…. But if we mix up the water and the chalk, then we can throw out both and a clearing up will follow. The ‘living through’ of the past experiences is equivalent to this semantic stirring-up of meanings before eliminating the immature evaluations.”

Chapter, “On Order”, page 148 of Science and Sanity, written in 1933

All living material, usually called protoplasm, has, in some degree, the nervous functions of irritability, conductivity, integration…   

 “We notice also that the effect of the stimulus is not identical with the stimulus itself, a falling stone is not identical with the pain we feel when the stone falls on our foot.

– Chapter, “On Order”, page 165 of Science and Sanity, written in 1933

“…we begin to check this…process of piling up ‘hurts’ on ‘hurts’…new ‘hurts’ in practice are usually related or similar to the old ones; they would ‘revive’ the older hurts. Accordingly he could not only ‘live through’ the older experiences but at once revive them, and after re-evaluation, eliminate the harmful effects.”

–Alfred Korzybski, from Science and Sanity

“Psycho-galvonic experiments show clearly that every emotion or thought is always connected with some electrical current.”

–Alfred Korzybski


The technology referred to by Korzybski is called “Abreaction therapy.”

The United States Navy used it during World War II in order to assist soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder by re-living the experience in a controlled environment.


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