‘Behaviourists explain maladaptive behaviour in terms of the learning principles that sustain and maintain it. Discuss this statement and show how a behaviourist’s approach to therapy is in stark contrast to a psychoanalytic. ’ Introduction In this essay I intend to compare and contrast the behaviourist perspective with a psychoanalytical approach to therapy, in relation to the above statement and will explore their fundamental principles and differences. Throughout the centuries, different methods and techniques have been developed to help enhance the quality of therapy for people who suffer from different types of behaviours.
Many theories about how and what therapy is and most effective techniques have been sought out and applied. All have different techniques with yet the same goal, which is to find a cure and treat the individual’s issue. Through the years therapists have found one to be more effective than the other, and some therapies have been modified of enhanced to better treat a patient. Behavioural psychology, also known as behaviourism, is a theory of learning based upon the idea that all behaviours are acquired through conditioning.
Conditioning occurs through interaction with the environment. According to behaviourism, behaviour can be studied in a systematic and observable manner with no consideration of internal mental processes. As human beings we are driven to understand who we are, what makes us tick and how the facets of our own personality make us individual. The answer to this question according to behaviourists is that we are born with a handful of innate responses known as stimulus response units and that all our complex behaviours are through learning by interaction with the environment.
Behaviourism is the theory that the development of human nature is governed by our environment or nurturing rather than individual’s innate qualities or ‘nature’. Bringing to mind the ‘nature versus nurture’ debate, one of the oldest issues in psychology, which centres on the relative contributions of genetic inheritance and environmental factors to human development. Behaviourism is one of the oldest theories of personality and dates back to Descartes, who introduced the idea of stimulus and called the person a machine dependant on external events whose soul was a ghost in the machine. Behaviourism takes this idea to another level.
Although most theories operate to on the assumption that humans have some sort of free will and are moral thinking entities, behaviourism does not accept that maladaptive characteristics are inherent in a person’s nature. “In the mind of the behaviourist, persons are nothing more than simple mediators between behaviours and the environment. ” (Skinner, 1993, p. 428) John. B. Watson (1878-1958), an American psychologist, whose work originated the theory of behaviourism, believed that psychology is essentially the science of stimuli and responses and learned responses can be acquired by means of conditioning.
He denied the existence of any human instincts, inherited capacities or talents, and temperaments, as shown in this quote from his book, Behaviorism, published in 1925. “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select…” –John B. Watson. According to John Watson, psychology should be the science of observable behaviour. “Psychology as the behaviorist views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science.
Its theoretical goal is the prediction and control of behavior. Introspection forms no essential part of its methods, nor is the scientific value of its data dependent upon the readiness with which they lend themselves to interpretation in terms of consciousness,” he explained (1913). Conditioning and behaviour modification are still widely used in therapy and behavioural training to help clients change problematic behaviours and develop new skills. However, in Watson’s most famous and controversial experiment, known today as the “Little Albert” experiment, where he conditioned a small child to fear a white rat.
This was accomplished this by repeatedly pairing the white rat with a loud, frightening clanging noise. He was also able to demonstrate that this fear could be generalized to other white, furry objects. The ethics of the experiment are often criticized today, especially because the child’s fear was never deconditioned. The development of ‘behaviourism’ at this point in history has since been viewed as a reaction to the psychoanalytical models of human development presented by Freud and the Neo- Freudians, which at the time challenged and confused many and appeared to lack scientific rigour.
The behavioural perspective outlines two processes of conditioning, which are Classical and Operant Conditioning. Classical and operant conditioning are two important concepts central to behavioural psychology. While both result in learning, the processes are quite different. In order to understand how each of these behaviour modification techniques can be used, it is also essential to understand how classical conditioning and operant conditioning differ from one another. The main differences are shown below: Classical conditioning: First described by Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936), a Russian physiologist •Involves placing a neutral signal before a reflex •Focuses on involuntary, automatic behaviours In his famous experiment, Ivan Pavlov noticed dogs began to salivate in response to a tone after the sound had been repeatedly paired with the presentation of food. Pavlov quickly realised that this was a learned response and set out to further investigate the conditioning process. Classical conditioning involves pairing a previously neutral stimulus (such as the sound of a bell) with an unconditioned stimulus (the taste of food).
This unconditioned stimulus naturally and automatically triggers salivating as a response to the food, which is known as the unconditioned response. After associating the neutral stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus, the sound of the bell alone will start to evoke salivating as a response. The sound of the bell is now known as the conditioned stimulus and salivating in response to the bell is known as the conditioned response. Operant conditioning: •First described by Burrhus Frederic “B. F. ” Skinner (1904 –1990), an American psychologist Involves applying reinforcement or punishment after a behaviour •Focuses on strengthening or weakening voluntary behaviours Operant conditioning focuses on using either reinforcement or punishment to increase or decrease a behaviour. Through this process, an association is formed between the behaviour and the consequences for that behaviour. For example, imagine that a trainer is trying to teach a dog to fetch a ball. When the dog successful chases and picks up the ball, the dog receives praise as a reward.
When the animal fails to retrieve the ball, the trainer withholds the praise. Eventually, the dog forms an association between his behaviour of fetching the ball and receiving the desired reward. One of the most well known treatments yet the most misunderstood is the psychoanalytical therapy. This therapy is based on the work of Sigmund Freud and he began developing this therapeutic technique in the late 1800s. Psychoanalytical therapy analyses how an individual’s mind influences thoughts and behaviours.
This therapy analyses and focuses on individual’s experiences from his or her childhood and how those events may contribute to current actions in a person’s life. The therapist spends a large amount of time listening to the client, giving the psychoanalytical therapy the name “talk therapy. ” Psychoanalytical therapy allows patients to cope and understand experiences, whether traumatic or sad. It allows for their experiences to be coped with and to treat the effect of current behaviour and feelings due to the experience that the patient has endured.
Psychoanalytical therapy looks in-depth at the conscious and unconscious feelings of the patient. Therapists look for specific patterns or events that could be contributing in their current struggles. It is believed that childhood events, unconscious feelings, thoughts, and motivations play a role in maladaptive behaviour and mental illness by psychoanalysis. Psychoanalytical therapy uses free association, role-play and dream interpretation as well as providing an environment free of judgment.
With this environment clients feel safe in disclosing their feelings or actions that has led to the stress or tension in their lives. The downside to this therapy is that it can be costly and time consuming. In psychoanalytical therapy the goal is to bring the patient to a place of self-awareness and cause a better understanding of influences of the patients past and that impact on present behaviours. In doing this, psychoanalytical therapy causes the patient to be diagnosed and treated by the therapist. The psychoanalytical approach to therapy can be referred to as ‘talk therapy. In psychoanalytical therapy the focus is very much about the patient’s experiences and how those experiences affect the patient’s current life and problems. The patient of psychoanalytical therapy is often going to see his or her therapist often and divulge experiences seeking the therapist’s input and analysis for understanding. The psychoanalytical therapist focuses on the unconscious mind because he or she believes that influences the patient’s thoughts and behaviours. The psychoanalytical theory sets forth the idea that there are many stages of growth for an individual, which starts in the womb.
Freud concluded that the varied stages of growth physically and mentally held an impact on the unconscious and conscious mind of all individuals. With the psychoanalytical theory, individuals talk openly and freely about their feelings while the psychoanalysts asks questions designed to draw out more thought and feeling from the clients unconscious mind and the psychoanalysts does not offer advice or extend sympathy to the client. Through these sessions the client can gain enlightenment on their own and can become empowered to find his or her self-worth and move toward independently making improvements.
The ego aspect of the psychoanalytical theory is said to regulate and control ones personality and remains in touch with reality and all the while formulating a plan of action to satisfy ones needs. The psychoanalytical theory is not about changing ones personality, rather encouraging the client to respond maturely to and open-mindedly to all of life’s demands. Lastly, the therapist patient/client relationship differs in these therapy types. In psychoanalytical therapy the therapist is the expert and is guiding, analysing, and teaching the patient to achieve the goal.
The patient fully depends on the therapist and cannot come to any conclusions without the therapist’s input. Differences between Behaviourist & Psychoanalytical Approaches The Behaviourist Approach to Psychology Strengths: Behaviourism contributed to psychology in many ways; • Behaviourism was very scientific and its experimental methodology left a lasting impression on the subject. • It provided strong counter-arguments to the nature side of the nature-nurture debate. • The approach is very parsimonious, explaining a great variety of phenomena using only a few simple (classical and operant) principles. Behaviourism has produced many practical applications, some of which have been very effective. Weaknesses Behaviourist views have been criticized by other approaches for a number of reasons • Ethnologist argued that the behaviourists ignored innate built in biases in learning due to evolution, but also disagreed with the behaviourist’s use of animal laboratory experiments, saying that there is a biologically qualitative difference between humans and other animals and that experiments only demonstrate artificial, not natural learning. Cognitive psychologists thing that behaviourism ignores important mental processes involved in learning; while the humanistic approach disliked their rejection of conscious mental experience. The Psychoanalytic Approach to Psychology Strengths • Freud’s idea made a large impact on psychology and psychiatry and are still discussed and used today, around a 100 years after he started developing them • Freud regarded case studies like “Little Hans, and Anna O’ as firm empirical support for his theory, and thought his belief in eterminism and detailed collection of data were scientific. • Freud’s theory has had some experimental support in certain areas, such as repression and fixation. • Psychoanalysis is had enormous explanatory power and has something to say on a huge variety of topics. Weaknesses Many psychologists today reject psychoanalysis because; • It has been accused of being irrefutable (incapable of being proved wrong) and so theoretically unscientific – it seems to explain everything but predicts very little. Freud’s methods have been regarded as unscientific because he based his theory on studying an “abnormal” sample of people, using the case study method and techniques that were not fully objective and, therefore, open to bias. • Much experimental research carried out on Freudian hypotheses has failed to support his theory and ideas. • The success of psychoanalytic therapy has been criticized. Does it help us understand the nature/nurture debate? The Psychoanalytic Approach is on the nurture side of the argument, as the development of the whole personality is a result of interaction with parents and reality.
The ID is present from birth, but the EGO and SUPEREGO develop as the child grows. The Behaviourist Approach is on the nurture side of the argument as it says that our personality develops as a response to the things that we have learned as we grow up. The main similarity is that they are both deterministic, i. e. , based on the premise that something other than the organism is responsible for its behaviour. In the case of behaviourism, it’s the consequences of previous behaviours, i. e. , punishments, reinforcements, etc. In psychodynamic theories it’s typically tension between conflicting forces, e. g. , sex and death or id and superego.
Freud leaned toward these types of dichotomous “energy systems”, and most if not all psychodynamic theories are derived from his psychoanalytic theory. In Conclusion, the similarities and differences of these therapies are important deciding factors for when a patient is seeking out help. Behaviourism is based strictly on what is observable, and described in terms of discrete, physical stimuli, measurable responses, and the relationships among them. Because of this, behaviour analysis is a science and has contributed greatly to our understanding of why we do what we do. They don’t deny that other things may be going on in the brain, e. . , cognition, etc. , but they don’t study it because it’s not observable behaviour and argue that behaviours can be predicted from antecedent events regardless of anything invisible that might be going on. In contrast, Psychoanalytical therapy is focused on the unconscious mind of the patient, so something in the past might be causing the problems in the present. Each method of therapy has its different way of treating the problem, all with the ability to find a solution. Humans are all different, and do not think alike. What one form of therapy may be beneficial to one may not have the same effect on another.
However, each of these methods has some similarities and differences with some outweighing and being more effective than others. The approaches of both Psychoanalytical and Behaviourist theory is to strive to reach a common result, such as assisting people with some sort of problem but these therapy approaches have a few differences. These differences include the therapy approach, goals, and the therapist’s relationship with the patient/client. As described above these different therapy types can be beneficial for people but being aware of the differences can aid one in choosing the right therapy path for them.