A member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexey Krylov recalled that his distant relative, named Ivan, came to the Krylov estate in his childhood and showed different performances in front of the family. Little Alexey was allowed to attend the performance on condition that he should catch frogs first. Because Ivan who came to visit Alexey was none other than Ivan Sechenov.
He graduated from the Saint Petersburg Main Engineering School at the rank of warrant officer and served in the combat engineer battalion in Kyiv. But engineering did not capture his interest for a long time and he suddenly turned to medicine. The Medical Department of the Moscow University offered him profession but not the lifelong love. The then medicine disenchanted Sechenov and he went into physiology. And he was so successful that Ivan Petrovich Pavlov named Sechenov “the father of the Russian physiology.”
Sechenov’s scientific contributions are vast and indisputable — he laid the foundation for the age, comparative, environment and occupational physiology. It was Ivan Mikhaylovich who proved that the length of a working day should not exceed eight hours. In his classical work Reflexes of the Brain, Sechenov showed that all mental phenomena come from physiological processes, which can be studied by scientific methods. Materialism of this book did not to sit well with the official authorities who put Sechenov on trial. Ivan Mikhaylovich was not scared. When friends asked him who he planned to hire as his defense attorney, he answered, “For pity’s sake, why do I need an attorney? I will take a frog to court and show the judges all my experiments. Let the prosecutor refute my statements!” As a result, Sechenov won and his work was released.