Respondent and Instrumental Conditioning as related to Phobias and Addictions
Many people who suffer from phobias also suffer from addictions. This is largely due in part to the reluctance to seek professional treatment for the phobia. People turn to other means to cope with their phobias which in turn leads to addictions. Dependence is such an issue with addiction that stopping is very difficult and causes severe physical and mental reactions. Therapist use a technique called extinction to treat patients with phobias and addictions. A Phobia is a persistent, abnormal or irrational fear of a specific thing or situation that compels one to avoid the feared stimulus. Phobias are largely underreported. An estimated 6 million people in the United States alone suffer from phobias. The types of phobias is extremely extensive, however the most well-known phobias are claustrophobia, arachnophobia, aerophobia, dentophobia, agoraphobia, and zoophobia to name a few. The onset of a phobia is usually around age 10. (Dryers-Edwards, 2010). Some phobias are passed on from parent to child or conditioned responses, however most phobias are innate or unconditioned responses. Being that phobias are responses to a feared stimulus, we can conclude that they are brought on by Respondent or Classical conditioning. For example, a child who observes their parent displaying fear of dogs will themself develop this phobia. This is a conditioned response as the child is conditioned or taught to fear dogs. An unconditioned phobia is any phobia that a person develops when no one else in their family experiences the same phobia. For instance, a person might be afraid of heights and no one else in their family experiences this same phobia. A phobia can also be developed through Respondent Conditioning, which is a process of behavior modification in which a subject learns to respond in a desired manner such that a neutral stimulus is repeatedly presented in association with a...
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