Conditioned treatment Essay


            Phobia is used to refer to fear of an activity, an object or a situation which is usually irrational and which makes an individual to avoid such things which causes such fear - Conditioned treatment Essay introduction. Phobia usually affects the way people carry out their work, their ability to effectively carry out their tasks as well as their social skills. One of the major resultant of phobia is feelings of anxiety which makes an individual to avoid any object which may be the cause of the fear. A person suffering from phobia may exhibit symptoms like feelings of horror, panic or terror, fear that is beyond the actual threat, reactions which are uncontrollable which overtakes the thoughts of an individual, increased heart beat which may be accompanied by trembling and breath shortage and extra caution to avoid the object which is being feared. There are different categories of phobia which include agoraphobic, specific phobia and social phobia. Agoraphobic arises when a person dreads being in situation where he cannot escape. This leads to irrational fear in a person thus creating panic and anxiety. This is the most difficult form of phobia to treat since it encompasses a wide range of fears. Social phobia refers to the fear which is associated with fear of people while specific phobia is any other phobia apart from the social and agoraphobia. Specific phobia includes phobias like animal phobia, natural environment phobia and situational phobia among others (Compton, 1992).

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Pavlovian conditioning

            Phobia is usually treated using conditioning where by an individual is made to become accustomed to the item, situation or activity which leads to phobic tendencies. Classical conditioning also known as Pavlovian conditioning is the commonly used method of treating phobia. Under this conditioning treatment method, two stimuli are used which are referred to as conditioned stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus. The conditioned stimulus is usually the neutral stimulus which does not provoke phobic tendencies in a person being treated. The unconditioned stimulus on the other hand is meant to provoke a reflexive response which is innate in an individual and this is referred to as unconditioned response.

            Conditioning treatment is meant to influence the behavior of the individual by encouraging the person to overcome their fear and also helps individuals to control their emotions. While carrying out Pavlovian conditioning, both the conditioned and unconditioned stimuli are used by the therapist or the person carrying out this process. This form of treatment may take different forms depending on the condition and intensity of the phobia. Forward condition or backward conditionings are the main modes of instituting classical conditioning. In the forward conditioning method, an individual is first presented with a conditioned stimulus which is then followed by the unconditioned stimulus. This method may take two forms the trace conditioning and the delay conditioning. Under the trace conditioning, there is no overlapping of the conditional and the unconditional stimuli. The therapist first introduces the conditional stimulus and after some time the unconditional stimulus is then presented. Under the delay conditioning both the conditional and unconditional stimuli are overlapped. The conditional stimulus is presented and is overlapped with the unconditional stimulus. Simultaneous conditioning may also be employed where both forms of stimulus are presented simultaneously and also terminated simultaneously (Compton, 1992).

            Backward conditioning is different from the forward conditioning in that it concentrates more on the conditioned responses stimulated by the unconditioned stimulus. Under this approach, the unconditional stimulus is presented first which is followed by the conditioned stimulus. In this method, the conditioned response is the one which is inhibitory usually because the conditioned stimulus is used as a signifying factor period of the unconditioned stimulus is over instead of being used to predict any future occurrence. Other forms of conditioning treatment employed in treating behavioral and psychological ailments include the unpaired conditioning where by the stimuli are not presented at the same time but are independently treated. Another form of conditioning is refereed to as temporal conditioning where by the unconditional stimulus is usually presented at timed and regular intervals and the conditioned response is obtained after the presentation of the unconditioned stimulus. Under this approach the conditioned stimulus is only used as a background and is usually used during the initial stages as an example.

            Conditioned treatment apart from being used to treat phobia, it is also employed in helping individuals with chronic mental disorders to control their emotions and mood swings. Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are some of the chronic mental diseases where by conditioning treatment can be used. Unlike in phobia where behavior is caused by fear which is usually irrational, in bipolar condition and schizophrenia conditions are caused by mood swings which alternate mainly due to genetic and hormonal conditions. Individuals suffering from these two forms suffer from mood swings which range from low moments of depression to manic episodes. Conditioning treatment can thus be used to help such individual learn to cope with the mode swings which reducing their effects. This may also be necessary in ensuring that the mood swings are controlled and avoided. However, conditional treatment on its own cannot be effective in reducing the effects of bipolar or schizophrenia disorders. A person suffering from these disorders should ensure that he is continuing with his medication even when undertaking the conditioning treatment (Compton, 1992).

Bipolar and schizophrenia disorders

            Bipolar condition or disorder also commonly referred to manic depression is a form of disorder which causes serious and extreme shifts in the mood, thinking, behavior and energy of a person. Every human being has mood swings cycles which last for some hours or even a day then they vanishes. The mood swings in case of bipolar condition are different since they may extend to several days or even months. This mood swings makes a person to either be overactive and under active. Mood changes in persons with bipolar disorders usually affect the ability of such a person to function properly due to their intensity. Bipolar condition is closely related with schizophrenic disorder and at times it is difficult to differentiate the two conditions since in some cases their symptoms are similar. A person suffering from bipolar may at times exhibit schizophrenic behavior. Recent studies have revealed there could be some genetic linkages between these two forms of disorders. Bipolar disorders are more common than schizophrenia disorders. Bipolar conditions are difficult to diagnose thus making treatment difficult. Also, most of people overlook it and is usually confused with the normal mood swings making most of the people not to seek medical attention. Lack of treatment may lead to worsening of the disorder in a person making it hard to treat. Bipolar disorder in women is different from that of men making it hared to diagnose properly. One of the main explanations for such disparity is owed to the fact that women tend to be more demonstrative and have affective loading than the men which usually makes this disorder to be under diagnosed in most women especially in their teenage period. Another reason for under diagnosis of bipolar in women is because mild mania is usually associated with women mood swings associated with hormonal changes in the body (Smith, Segal & Segal, 2009).

            A person suffering from bipolar condition experiences mood swings which range from periods of low depression to times of high manias. These mood swings are usually to the extreme causing significant behavior changes. When an individual is experiencing manic episodes, he or she exhibits high levels of energy, creativity and is overly active. On the other hand, episodes of low depression are characterized by suicidal thoughts, hopelessness, less energy and under activeness (Wilkinson, Taylor & Holt, 2002).

            Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe disease of the brain although it is less common than the bipolar disorder. This disease disenables the brain and the patient exhibits different symptoms which may range from hearing or purporting to hear internal voices, believing that there is a threat of being killed or harm, believes that some other individuals are controlling the mind of the patient or even reading their mind. These weird experiences and believes make the patient to be fearful and thus being withdrawn especially from people who seem like they are the major threats. Due to the disenabling of the brain, the speech may be impaired or disorganized as well as their behavior. People suffering from schizophrenia may also start chasing other people away or frightening them. Chances of recovery are minimal unlike in bipolar disorder. At times a person with this condition may exhibit bipolar system and vice versa hence their roots are said to overlap. Conditioning treatment is usually given alongside other meditations for individuals suffering from bipolar and schizophrenia to help them cope with the mood swings (, n. d).

Types and symptoms of bipolar disorder

            There are different types of bipolar disorders which are categorized according to their severity and are usually based on the behavior that a person exhibits. The first type of bipolar condition is referred to as bipolar I which is the most severe form of bipolar. It is the classic form of bipolar disorder which is characterized by recurrent episodes of both mania and depression. Usually while suffering from this type of bipolar, depression may last for months or for a relatively small period. Bipolar I disorder is associated with increased depression episodes while the hypomania episodes are relatively small. After the episodes of depression a person is likely to be back to feelings of normality while at times mania episodes may follow depression episodes. The symptoms exhibited by a person suffering from bipolar I includes irritability, loss of energy and at times fatigue, hopelessness feelings accompanied by mental as well as physical sluggishness, insomnia, feelings of guilt and worthlessness which are usually accompanied by suicidal thoughts, changes in weight and appetite of an individual and loss of memory and even concentration problems. During the manic episodes, a person may become over active with feelings of excess energy, individuals may also feel more optimistic or they may become extremely irritable especially to people who oppose their ideas, one develops unrealistic notion regarding his powers or abilities to perform a task, inability to concentrate characterized by racing thoughts and many ideas which are varied, a person may become reckless and usually acts without regarding to any consequence which may arise due to his or her actions. Hallucination and delusions may also be experienced by a person during this period (Health Media, 2009).

            The second type of bipolar disorder is refereed to as bipolar II which is usually characterized by depression episodes just like in bipolar I but mania episodes are not as severe as in bipolar I. individuals suffering form bipolar II are more prone to suffer from depression whiff fewer episodes of hypomania. The depressive symptoms are similar to those experienced by persons suffering from bipolar I disorder. However, unlike in bipolar I, the episodes are not very extreme. The third type of bipolar disorder is referred to as rapid cycling. A person suffering from this form of disorder experiences about four and above episodes of both mania and depression within a span of one year or twelve months. The episodes are usually extreme and an individual may alternate the episodes that is one may experience a period of depression and immediately after this episode he may enter a period of mania. At times a short period of time may lapse between occurrences of these episodes. The symptoms of this form of bipolar are as the symptoms of the above bipolar conditions and it is only distinguished by the frequency of the occurrence of mood swings.  In some instances, a person may exhibit mixed symptoms of bipolar disorder. For example, the feelings of sadness, irritability and depression may occur at the same time. Treating an individual experiencing multiple or mixed symptoms of bipolar condition is difficult and challenging (Antai-Otong, 2006).

Conditioning treatment of teenagers and young adult women with bipolar disorder

            As mentioned above, conditioning treatment can be used to help individuals with bipolar disorders cope with their mood swings and also to help them control events which may lead to occurrences of those mood swings. Conditioning treatment for teenage or young adult women suffering from bipolar disorder is however tricky especially due to the hormonal changes which may also cause mood swings. For example, during pre-menstrual period, hormones are released to the body system which may lead to mood swings. Such mood swings may be attributed to bipolar disorder thus leading to wrongful treatment. Also, bipolar mood swings may be confused with mood swings associated with hormonal release in the body. Also, during adolescent stages, young women are bound to have mood swings which are caused by the changes in their bodies thus making conditioning difficult. During the teenage period and also the young adulthood, a woman is sensitive to other external factors like complements or disapprovals from friends or peers may accelerate the disorder or mood swings (Hoffmann, Janssen & Turner, 2004).

            Young women suffering from bipolar disorder are more likely to experience either depressive or mania episodes partly due to their conditions and also due to the body changes as outlined above. As such, the therapists should be careful on how the conditioning is carried out to ensure that the right stimuli are addressed since failure to address the real stimulus may lead to increasing the effects of the mood swings. The therapists should first help the teenage lady identify the different stimuli which could lead to acceleration of the mood swings. While using the conditioning treatment, a young woman should be exposed to the entire stimuli which are likely to trigger bipolar reactions. This should be carried out repetitively until the right response is obtained and the person is capable of dealing with the stimuli (Ledoux, 1995).


            Conditioning treatment is one of the best methods which can be used in ensuring behavior change and also in ensuring that a person is able to control his or her emotions effectively. Conditioning involves exposing a person to the stimulus which causes or leads to discomfort while alternating it with a neutral stimulus. As the treatment continues, a period and interval of subjecting a person to the unconditioned stimulus are increased thus conditioning the person to the stimulus and reducing its negative impact on a person. This method is used in treating people suffering from mental disorders as well as phobias. However, while dealing with mentally ill persons, this method should be accompanied by other medication but the medication can be reduced as the person becomes more conditioned to the triggering stimulus.


Antai-Otong, D. (2006): Treatment Considerations for Patients Experiencing Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder. Journal article of Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, Vol. 42

Compton, A. (1992): The Psychoanalytic View of Phobias. Journal article of Psychoanalytic Quarterly, Vol. 61

Health Media (2009): Bipolar Disorder Is Different for Women. Retrieved on 26th March 2009 from,,,20232660,00.html

Hoffmann, H., Janssen, E. & Turner, S. L. (2004): Classical Conditioning of Sexual Arousal in Women and Men: Effects of Varying Awareness and Biological Relevance of the Conditioned Stimulus (1). Journal article of Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 33

Ledoux, J. E. (1995): Emotion: Clues from the Brain. Journal article of Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 46

Riedel, H. P. R., Heiby, E. M. & Kopetskie, S. (2001): Psychological Behaviorism Theory of Bipolar Disorder. Journal article of The Psychological Record, Vol. 51 (n. d): Overview of Schizophrenia. Retrieved on 26th March 2009 from,

Smith, M., Segal, J. & Segal, R. (2009): Understanding Bipolar Disorder: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment of Manic Depression. Retrieved on 26th March 2009 from,

Wilkinson, G. B., Taylor P. & Holt, J. R. (2002): Bipolar Disorder in Adolescence: Diagnosis and Treatment. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, Vol. 24


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