behaviourism, Counselling, psychology, self defeating behavior, self defeating behaviours, Uncategorized

26. Self Defeating Behaviours (part 2)

Self Defeating Behaviours: the origins

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Self Defeating Behaviours (SDB) originate often, for example, during childhood with overly critical parents where the child is not allowed to talk or have a different opinion, leading the child to eventually feel like he is always doing/saying the ‘wrong’ thing and is always in the ‘wrong’. Thus, in adulthood, the person, believing that they are always in the ‘wrong’, is likely to have adopted several SDBs that they subconsciously believe have previously helped them to ‘cope’. For example, they may live with ‘ostrich syndrome’ where they continuously have their head in the sand to avoid facing situations that they believe are too challenging for them to cope with. They may even believe subconsciously that their presence will ‘only make matters worse’.

Similarly, an individual who has been badly treated or raised by a violent father may, as an adult, be attracted to violent partners who are going to mistreat them in a similar way. This is common in children who are raised to believe that they are incapable of doing anything properly. The child then becomes so dependent on another person believing that only someone else can carry out tasks properly and thus, this is what is subconsciously required in finding a partner. Their lack of self esteem will contribute further to this, believing that they don’t deserve to be treated any better.

Preservation of SDBs

The preservation of these SDBs is due to the underlying mechanisms of the mind, which is, of course, at the centre of everything. As one experiences life in general and the variety of (often very emotional) events that occur, ‘coping’ strategies, which have been helpful during a previous similar experience, are stored in one’s subconscious. This enables the conscious mind, at any subsequent similar situation, to quickly ascertain the best course of action to be taken by the individual to ‘survive’ through it in the ‘best’ way possible. The conscious mind does this through considering both internal (e.g., psychological reasoning) and external methods (e.g., eating chocolate) where the subconscious can be relied on to adopt stored coping strategies that were previously successful and the conscious mind attempts to manage behaviours etc. that are appropriate in response to any novel circumstances. This is usually very effective. For example, after you burn your hand in the fire, your subconscious stores the strategy of avoiding touching flames (!) but when a new type of heating equipment is brought into the house, your conscious mind aids in the process of not getting burnt by being extra careful…to begin with at least. I will continue on this next week.

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References

1.Baumeister, R.F. & Scher, S.J. (1988) Self-Defeating Behaviour Patterns Among Normal Individuals: Review and Analysis of Common Self-Destructive Tendencies. Psychological Bulletin, 104 (1), 3-22.

2.Brownson, C., & Hartzler, B. (2000) Defeat Your Self-Defeating Behavior Understanding & Overcoming Harmful Patterns (T1 082). The clearing house for Structured/Thematic groups and Innovative programs. Texas, USA. Accessed 6/1/19. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download;jsessionid=BAECD64A429CAC98207F80C0FE3868CF?doi=10.1.1.434.2963&rep=rep1&type=pdf

3.Rogers, C. R. (1951) Client- Centered Therapy, London, Constable and Company Ltd.

 

behaviourism, Counselling, over eating, psychology, self defeating behavior, self defeating behaviours, Uncategorized

25. Self Defeating Behaviours (part 1)

Self Defeating Behaviours

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Self Defeating Behaviours (SDB) are things that we do when we are feeling, for example, low, fed up, sad, nervous, anxious or have another kind of undesirable feeling that we find hard to handle. So, the behaviour makes us feel better, or at least, we believe the behaviour makes us feel better! It is a “comfort” behaviour, which helps “soothe” us when we don’t like having the feeling.

Why is it self defeating? Often, the SDBs are not very good for us or are unhealthy and when they are repeated more often, can actually be damaging to our health. Common SDBs include, for example, eating junk food, overeating, smoking, drinking alcohol. Think of all the things you do when you need comfort. Can you think of a few things that you often do to comfort yourself or make yourself feel better?

Baumeister & Scher (1988) defined self defeating behaviour (SDB) as “any deliberate or intentional behaviour that has clear, definitely or probable negative effects on the self…(and that) the behaviour must be intentional although the harm to self (does) not have to be the intended or primary goal of the action.”[1]. Furthermore, according to Brownson and Hartzler (2000), a SDB is “a repetitive pattern of behaviour in which the individuals’ goal-directed attempts to fulfill a basic human need, result in unintended and harmful consequences”. Brownson and Hartzler (2000) continue that the “definition places no constraints on the particular problematic situation or behaviour. Rather, the focus is on the process whereby patterns are initiated and perpetuated”.

People who repeat the cycle of unsuccessful attempts to satisfy a basic, “core” need (e.g., love, control, connection with others) with SDBs are more likely to suffer depression, anxiety, and social isolation in later life [2]. This may be further exasperated because the negative consequences of the SDBs eventually contribute to even more undesirable feelings which lead to more SDB… and so on.

From a ‘counselling’ perspective, it must be noted that although a SDB is never the best choice of behaviour, for that individual, the SDB has been helpful on a previous occasion as a strategy to cope, i.e., when the individual felt at high risk of being very hurt or feeling emotional pain. This experience is then stored in the subconscious allowing the individual to resort to the chosen SDB in subsequent times of angst, for example, unaware that they are carrying out behaviour that is NOT actually helping the situation nor helping them to cope. The ironic part of using a SDB is that the SDB eventually provokes the very eventuality that the individual is trying to avoid in the first place.

Some examples of such self defeating behaviours include: smoking, overeating, procrastination, not accepting responsibility (blaming others), not listening, pleasing (other) people, not allowing yourself to enjoy fun or pleasure, always being right, making excuses, e.g., for being late, forgetting an appointment, perfectionism, exaggerating, bearing a grudge forever, self-sacrifice (followed by self pity), being the victim, always being attracted to the same type of person even if not apparent at first, and avoiding change.

If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question and I’ll do my very best to answer. I would love to hear from you!

References

1.Baumeister, R.F. & Scher, S.J. (1988) Self-Defeating Behaviour Patterns Among Normal Individuals: Review and Analysis of Common Self-Destructive Tendencies. Psychological Bulletin, 104 (1), 3-22.

2.Brownson, C., & Hartzler, B. (2000) Defeat Your Self-Defeating Behavior Understanding & Overcoming Harmful Patterns (T1 082). The clearing house for Structured/Thematic groups and Innovative programs. Texas, USA. Accessed 6/1/19. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download;jsessionid=BAECD64A429CAC98207F80C0FE3868CF?doi=10.1.1.434.2963&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

behaviourism, Counselling, Freud, Jung, psychology, Uncategorized

24. Behaviourism: critique (part 4)

Criticisms and strengths

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Behaviourism is based on the controversial assumption that animals and humans share the same cognitive processes of learning. Behaviourism has been criticised by psychoanalysts for overlooking subjective experiences. It has also been widely criticised for failing to acknowledge the biological nature of humans and genetic influences, plus the artificial conditions under which many of the experiments took place. According to behaviourism, it would appear that humans do not have free will and their fate is determined by the environment (deterministic philosophy). The individual’s cognitive processes of learning or mental state are not taken into consideration. Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory (1977) demonstrated that individuals do learn through observation of others’ behaviours. Behaviourism does not seem to provide an explanation behind creative or spontaneous behaviour or indeed how individuals are capable of solving problems without the necessary lengthy periods of trial and error. However, its strengths lie in the scientific methods used where objectivity, and controlled variables, with observable and accurate measurement produce reliable results.

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23. Behaviourism: to fix us? (part 3)

Behaviourism: can this be used to fix us?

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John B. Watson (1878-1958) formally introduced behaviourism with the publication of his book ‘Psychology from the Standpoint of a Behaviorist’ (Watson, 1919) where he showed psychology to be completely objective (with no need for introspection). He promoted the use of scientific methods which involved the control of variables, and accurate measurements to gain observable, reliable results. Cognitive learning processes, genetic influences, any innate differences, and the artificial conditions of the experiment were not taken into consideration.

Maladaptive behaviour would therefore be seen by the behaviourist to be learned (maladaptive) behaviour, learned through classical conditioning and maintained through operant conditioning. Therefore, if a female adult presented with a fear of spiders, for example, the fear would be explained by her childhood experience (classical conditioning) of a spider suddenly appearing on her hand (fright paired with stimulus) as she reached to the back of the wardrobe to pick up her shoes. Since then her continual avoidance of spiders would have negatively reinforced (operant conditioning) the behaviour to the point that she would later fear leaving the house in case she encountered a spider.

With the additional aspect of cognition, where the cognitive steps behind the behaviour are taken into consideration, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been found to be effective in treating adult anxiety disorders, and in this case, the technique of systematic desensitization would help by gradually exposing the woman to the feared stimulus (i.e., the spider) so that the maladaptive behaviour could be unlearned (extinction). This technique might begin with simply mentioning the word ‘spider’, talking about a spider, and gradually progressing on to looking at a picture of one, until eventually she could actually be in the same room as a spider and finally be able to come into contact with a spider without feeling anxiety. Behaviour modification techniques have also been shown to be effective in anxieties, phobias, depression and multiple sclerosis amongst many other disorders.

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behaviourism, Brain Injury, Counselling, psychology, Uncategorized

22. Behaviorism: Conditioning (part 2)

Classical/ operant conditioning

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Assuming that the learning process was the same in humans as it was in some animals, it became apparent that a) stimuli elicited a behaviour, and b) events had caused the individual to respond to a stimulus in a certain way, i.e., learned behaviour. According to behaviourism, individuals learn through two types of conditioning: classical and operant.

Classical conditioning conditions the individual to produce the existing response to a new stimulus. Individuals learn to associate two concurring stimuli allowing the initial response to stimulus 1 to be transferred to stimulus 2. Therefore, the individual learns to respond in the existing behaviour to the new stimulus, as in the case of Pavlov’s dogs. Watson & Rayner (1920) also carried out an experiment on a young boy known as ‘little Albert’ pairing a loud noise (which made him anxious) with a white rat (which had not previously elicited any negative response). Little Albert’s anxious response (to the loud noise) soon transferred to the rat but sadly it also generalized to other stimuli that resembled the rat, e.g., white, furry rabbit and he soon became extremely anxious when faced with a cuddly, white toy rabbit. [It must be pointed out here that this experiment would of course be unethical by today’s standards.] Such conditioned responses can weaken with time (called ‘extinction’). Classical conditioning has been successfully used to treat phobic anxiety, and classical conditioning techniques are still used today in the treatment of phobias and anxieties.

Operant conditioning conditions the individual through the consequences of the individual’s behaviour. Thus, the individual’s behaviour can be followed by positive reinforcement (e.g., praise, reward) which strengthens the behaviour and increases the likelihood of the behaviour being repeated. If a behaviour is negatively reinforced (e.g., through nagging, avoidance), the response will be reinforced and maintained (e.g., a mum nagging her teenager to tidy up their bedroom!) thus avoiding spiders only makes the fear of them worse. If, however, the behaviour is followed by punishment, the likelihood of repeating the behaviour decreases, and the individual stops the behaviour (to avoid punishment). The term ‘operant conditioning’ was coined by B.F. Skinner (1953) who successfully trained rats to bar press in order to receive food pellets in the ‘Skinner box’. He later worked with pigeons to achieve further results. Today, positive reinforcement is considered to be the most successful method in training e.g., children. Operant conditioning has been very effective in modifying behaviour in individuals with learning difficulties, e.g., autism, and has proved to be a successful method to help people with phobias (e.g., in behaviour therapies, systematic desensitization). In everyday life, it is the foundation of education in today’s schools and also with psychiatric patients in hospitals. The concept of the ‘token economy’ is based on operant conditioning. Originally for psychiatric patients, this system awarded tokens to patients for achieving target behaviour, and these tokens could then be exchanged for a positive reinforcer, e.g., a treat, which ultimately increased the overall quantity of target behaviours. The token economy is now a common feature used in schools and some places of work and further research has endeavoured to find methods to maintain target behaviour and resist extinction once the tokens are no longer being awarded.

If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question and I’ll do my very best to answer. I would love to hear from you!

References

Martin, G.N., Clarkson, N.R., & Buskist,W. (2007). ‘The science of Psychology:                          Behaviourism’, Psychology (3rd ed.). Pearson Education Limited; England, U.K.

behaviourism, Brain Injury, Counselling, My Story, psychology, thoughts influence on physical body, Uncategorized

21. Behaviousrism (part 1)

The Behaviourist approach

Behaviourists explain maladaptive behaviour in terms of the learning principles that sustain and maintain it.

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Behaviourism focuses on the association between an individual’s behaviour and their surrounding environment, i.e., behaviour is simply a response to a stimulus or stimuli [without any consideration given to any influence of the individual’s mental state]. Thus, it follows that our behaviour is determined by the environment’s stimuli from which we learn how to respond accordingly. Because humans are born (like a blank slate) with only a few innate reflexes, all behaviours (both normal and abnormal) are seen by behaviourists as being learned through interacting with the environment. Learning and experiences determine how the individual becomes as a person.

Studying the behaviour of animals, Edward Thorndike (1874-1949) noticed that pleasant events would encourage a certain response whereas unpleasant/noxious events would ‘stamp out’ responses or at least make them less likely to occur again. Thorndike explained the ‘law of effect’ as how the consequences of a behaviour affect the likelihood of the behaviour being repeated.

Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936), whilst studying digestion, found that hungry dogs began salivating when they saw the assistant who fed the dogs. Pavlov then discovered that it was possible to train the dogs to salivate in response to different stimuli, e.g., the sound of a bell, before the dogs were given food. This showed that dogs could learn to respond to a stimulus that had not previously elicited a response.

If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question and I’ll do my very best to answer. I would love to hear from you!

References

Martin, G.N., Clarkson, N.R., & Buskist,W. (2007). ‘The science of Psychology:                          Behaviourism’, Psychology (3rd ed.). Pearson Education Limited; England, U.K.

Counselling, Freud, Jung, My Story, psychology, Uncategorized

20. A little background on Jung (part 5)

 

Is Jung relevant today?

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In today’s counselling environment Jung’s observations can help determine therapeutic goals. For example, an individual who is extremely extrovert may have lost touch with who he really is and what he actually wants. In this instance, consideration could be given to focussing on his introverted side to investigate who he really is. Homework could be given to encourage him to spend time on introspection, questioning his relationships with others, what he thinks he needs from others, what he thinks he actually gets from others, how he feels, why he is trying to impress them etc. This may lead on to discovering that he has difficulty saying “no” to his colleagues and work can then commence on that aspect. Also, through introspection, repressed feelings (from the personal or collective consciousness) may arise into consciousness which can consequently be worked on accordingly.

An individual presenting with an unbalanced archetype, e.g., cannot separate from the “persona” may be able, through introspection, to figure out which behaviours are acceptable, which behaviours are judged by the individual to be negative and look at the reasons behind the individual’s judgment.

Finally, one’s shadow can be investigated, again through introspection, so that any undesirable thoughts can be consciously faced, acknowledged and accepted allowing the individual to be more in control of these unconscious thoughts and not fear them.

Although rarely used by psychologists in a clinical setting, psychometric tests which have been adapted from Jung’s typology, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Gray-Wheelwright Type Survey, and the Singer-Loomis Inventory are commonly used today. Such tests have become fairly well known over the last few decades as they became more ‘fashionable’, and abridged versions are regularly featured in magazines. In the business world these tests can be useful in improving group dynamics, e.g., team building, to increase overall work productivity and are commonly used when managers are initiating novel ideas and projects. The MBTI is frequently used in career planning, professional development, and marketing. Educational environments also take advantage of these tests to establish how individuals prefer to perceive their external world and make decisions. From this information, teaching styles can be adapted accordingly and even the layout of the classroom can be adapted to benefit learning. These tests may also be useful in marriage counselling today, e.g., with regards to explanations behind ‘mid-life crisis’ and may lead to in-depth investigation of the individual’s ‘shadow’. Jung did not intend for his theory to be used to categorize or label individuals but more as a helpful judge of character. Jung’s work has provided us with a good foundation on which we can continue building. Personality types are worth taking into consideration in the counselling environment and have increased our awareness of individual characteristics.

If you liked this, be sure to subscribe. It’s free and you will have access to my weekly blogs. If there are specific areas of interest that you would like me to write about, please comment or write a question and I’ll do my very best to answer. I would love to hear from you!

References

  1. Sharp, D. (1987). Personality types: Jung’s model of Typology. Inner city books, Toronto, Canada.
  2. Stevens, A. (1994) Jung: A very short introduction. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.