Behaviourist treatments of dysfunctional behaviour

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  • Behaviourist treatments of DB
    • Systematic desensitisation
      • Involves pairing phobic stimulus with something pleasant or relaxing
      • Uses classical conditioning
        • Replaces irrational fears and anxieties associated with phobic objects
          • It does this by using the incompatible response of relaxation - patients can't feel two opposite emotions at the same time
      • Wolpe
        • Successfully treated a patient with a severe hand washing compulsion
    • Aversion therapy
      • Associates a stimulus which is undesirable but attractive to the patient with a negative stimulus
        • For example, alcoholics enjoy consuming alcohol - but therapist would associate it with illness for the patient
          • Drink alcohol while under an illness inducing drug
            • Patient then associates alcohol with illness = lessened DB
      • Based on classical conditioning
      • Used in the past to 'cure' homosexuals by electrocuting them if they were aroused by a certain stimuli
    • Flooding
      • Exposes patient to their fear directly
        • They will experience extreme anxiety at first but exhaustion sets in and the anxiety decreases
          • They have no choice but to confront their fears, and find they have come to no harm when panic subsides = reduced DB
            • For example, locking a claustrophobic person in a small space but then they realise they have come to no harm
    • McGrath
      • Aim: treating a girl named Lucy for noise phobia using SD
        • Design: single subject case study
          • Participant: Lucy, who had a lower than average IQ and no evidence of depression/anxiety
            • Procedure: taught breathing and imagery techniques in order to relax and paired this with her fear
              • Findings: associated the noise with being calm, and after 8 sessions went from being unable to be around party poppers to popping one herself
                • Conclusion: noise phobias can be alleviated through SD


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