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Phobias & Addictions Essay

1236 words - 5 pages

Phobias & Addictions
December 17, 2013
Betsy Ferronato

Phobias & Addictions

Within society, many individuals suffer from phobias or addictions and sometimes even both. A phobia is an irrational fear of a specific object or situation. Addiction is a need or enslavement to a substance, an object, an activity, or a habit that is psychologically or physically habit-forming such as narcotics are, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma and most often an interruption in a person’s life (Robinson & Berridge, 2003). For the most part, addiction is a disease. When we are born, we start experimenting and learning for survival among other things. Phobias can ...view middle of the document...

Classical conditioning sometimes called Pavlovian conditioning was the first type of learning to be studied systematically (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). Classical conditioning is a natural process, which involves numerous factors. These factors include UCS an unconditioned stimulus, UCR an unconditioned response, CS a conditioned stimulus, and CR a conditioned response (King, n.d.). Phobias can be formed or developed through classical conditioning. Phobias can also be caused by life experiences. For example, many children develop a fear of going to the doctors or dentists for fear that they may get a shot. As a result, many adults live with the phobia of hypodermic needles. As an adult, we know that most injections are necessary or required but are reasonably painless. Knowing this usually has little impact on his or her phobia, consequently sometimes it does not.

Perhaps the most famous example of the classical conditioning of emotional responses is the case of little Albert. The study was performed by the founder of behaviorism, psychologist John Watson, and his associate, Rosalie Rayner (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). Through classical conditioning, little Albert developed a fear of furry animals or objects—even Santa’s beard. Watson and Rayner found Albert in the Harriet Lane Home for Invalid Children, where his mother worked as a wet nurse. He was selected because; he appeared to be “healthy” and “unemotional”. The first time Watson and Rayner offered him a variety of furry objects, such as a bunny, a Santa Claus beard, and a fur coat, he was only nine months old. Albert showed no fear; he actually played with the objects. A few days later, they tested the little boy’s response to loud noises. They banged on an object directly behind him and he reacted by jumping up and whimpering. Soon they associated the furry objects with the loud noises; eventually he linked the two together, thus developing a fear of furry objects (Kowalski & Westen, 2011).

Furthermore, addiction is formed through operant conditioning by performing a particular behavior or ingesting a substance that in turn provides a person with some sort of reward or feeling of pleasure. This feeling of pleasure then becomes associated with the use of a substance, which increases the actions or behaviors leading to psychological or physical addiction. Operant or instrumental conditioning is a system of teaching and learning which applies particular forms of punishment and rewards to either decrease and eliminate, or increase actions and behaviors. Through the application of the appropriate form of reinforcement, individuals learn to make an association between their actions and the consequences, which follow. Behaviors are learned by performing everyday activities and by receiving a rewarded for these activities; individuals go to work every day because they know they will be rewarded with a paycheck, children try to do well in school because they know they will be...

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