“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 One”.

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“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 one”.

The term ‘therapy’ has been defined as an activity which ‘involves the treatment of a disease or disorder, by some remedial, rehabilitating, or curative process’. Historically, there has been considerable development in the range and types of therapy that can be used to help a client overcome problems in a modern world, with some sharing similarities but also differences. The intent of this essay is to compare and contrast the behaviourist perspective with a psychoanalytical approach, drawing out their fundamental principles but reinforcing their differences. In 1924, John Watson a behavioural psychologist, made the notorious claim in his book that ...‘if you 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’. This ideology, later to be called behaviourism, asserted that all psychology must be completely measurable, recordable and scientific. The fundamental principle underpinning this approach was that all behaviour, both ‘normal’ and abnormal, is learned through conditioning. In simpler terms, it proposed that human behaviour is learnt by humans interacting with the world around us as well as the environment operating on us. 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 delineates two process of conditioning; Classical and Operant Conditioning. Classical conditioning was initially proposed by Pavlov (1849-1936),...
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