Phobias and Addiction

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Phobias and Addictions

December 17, 2010


The works and research of Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov and B.F. Skinner, the leader in behaviorism, help to illuminate and deepen the knowledge of how classical and operant conditioning, play an important role in the treatment of phobias and addictions. Phobias have a wide range of inflictions and limitations ranging from mild and moderate to severe. Addictions vary within themselves as well, from mild cases to those far more complex. For as many differences in diagnosis of these afflictions, the treatments to help cure them are just as diverse. Because of this, it is important to understand how the classical and operant conditioning work in partnership with the therapeutic approach to help those afflicted with phobias and addictions.

The emotional difficulties of phobias and addictions have caused learning theorists to examine classical and operant conditioning in attempting to understand and treat patients with these disorders. Before a problem is treated, it is first identified which is not an easy matter for those who suffer with panic disorder because it often mimics physical ailments. Most sufferers believe they have a “rare, mysterious physical ailment, or even worse, that they are going crazy” (Weinstock & Gilman, 1998, p. 4). Addictions, on the other hand, offer many potential indulges, ranging from alcohol consumption, heroin and cocaine abuse, overeating, compulsively overspending, excessive smoking, sexual, and love addiction. “People have a great capacity to participate in behaviors that provide momentary pleasure only to extract an emotional or physical toll” (Simon & Chopra, 2007, p. viii). Phobias are identified as being fear based often stemming from childhood or a traumatic experience, whereas addictions give the user the temporary feeling of well being or happiness while removing or covering up the underlying problems the user is attempting to avoid by...
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