Conditioning Essay

For my paper I wanted to examine the idea of conditioning and focus mainly on the emotional aspect of it.

Continuing affects us in several ways. Most the time, in ways we are not fullyaware of. One of the more indirect ways is emotionally. I have a close friend, who wellcall Jordan for reasons of privacy, who seems to be deathly afraid of medicine. While Ifind this fear irrational and unrealistic, he finds it extremely real and sometimesUntil recently I saw no real problem with his fear, but a strange thing happenedand I found myself trying to analyze and almost diagnose what had happened.

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Due tosome sort of food poisoning, he was forced to be taken into the local emergency room. His reaction to the food he had eaten seemed to be serious and upon arrival, the first thingthe nurse did was place an IV in his arm. Immediately his fear of medicine came intoplay. Though the IV was different than the medicine he was normally afraid of, the IVfell into a category I believe to be a stimulus generalization.

A stimulus generalizationis defined as the occurrence of a learned response not only to the original stimulus, butto the other similar stimuli as well.His conditioned response to antibiotics in the past,became a conditioned reaction to all forms of medicine. Jordan acted out the way anyonewould to such a fear. He began screaming at the nurse, and tearing at the needle in hisarm. After later recalling the incident, he told me that it bothered him even more thantaking a pill that they were putting things directly into his blood stream. I was interestedby the whole incident and became determined to find the psychological reasons behindhis response. As you read this, bare in mind that I am not a psychologist nor a scientist,so if I am far off in my conclusions, forgive me.

I began by analyzing Jordans past life experiences and applied them to the manyconcepts I had recently learned in psychology. I immediately noticed a direct correlationbetween his past experience and the idea of conditioning. I now believe that Jordan has aconditioned response to the idea of taking medicine, that makes him fearful of the resultsAs a child Jordan had several severe cases of strep throat, a common illness inboth children and adults. Each time he was prescribed with different types of antibioticsand cough syrups. He is allergic to penicillin, a popular ingredient in many antibiotics. Because of this he was forced to take only liquid antibiotics which caused his initialdislike towards medicine. The medicine was both sticky and thick. The horrible tastingmedicine, he recalled, always caused him to gag. As he continued taking the prescriptionhe noticed that the medicine didnt settle well in his stomach which eventually made himvomit. I believe this is what conditioned him to respond the way he does now toIn a sense, the form of conditioning that caused his extreme dislike in takingmedicine is operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is defined as the basiclearning process that involves changing the probability of a response being repeated bymanipulating the consequences of that response. The consequences of Jordan nottaking the medicine was not vomiting, which he deemed as VERY positiveThough I believe Jordan is conditioned not to take medicine, he admits there areextreme cases where he would be willing to take them. This has to do with the idea ofpunishment. He accepts the notion that when a person refuses to take medicine, chancesare, their symptoms will increase. Even with this realization he still vows to avoidAs a person goes through life, they rarely question the reasons why they react to acertain stimulus the way they do. Most behavior patterns are formed through some sort ofconditioning. Jordan is a key example of this. A series of events early in his childhoodconditioned him to act a certain way. He said that maybe one day he will be able toovercome his fear, but for now it doesnt affect him enough to change his ways. In conclusion I believe that nearly all behavior patterns are formed through somesort of conditioning. Jordan was not born disliking medicine. It was a characteristic heacquired as he aged. it was something he was conditioned to dislike. this is one of themain reasons some of the most prominent psychologists in history believe that anyhealthy person can be conditioned to do anything or act any certain way, despite havingthe talent. By being aware of this, I believe that we can become the people we want to beand do the things that we want to do if we condition ourselves correctly.

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