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

29. Self Defeating Behaviours (part 5)

Self Defeating Behaviours: Treatment (person-centred counselling)

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Person-centred (PC) counselling was developed and introduced by Carl Rogers. PC counselling focuses on how we feel in the “here and now”, and helps people to take responsibility for their actions. The PC approach assumes that human beings have an innate capacity to heal themselves whilst the counsellor can offer help to eliminate any blocks preventing this process. The person’s subjective experience (including attitudes, beliefs etc.) is important. The counsellor’s empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard are also vital to the success of this approach.

The person often employs ‘defence mechanisms’ (similar to minimising the effect) where they deny or distort their perception to “fit” with their perception of themself. Once the person feels understood, accepted and safe, they are able to gradually open up and go deeper within themselves. They can then face attitudes or beliefs that were previously concealed thus becoming more aware of their true inner feelings.

Once the person is able to “own” their behaviour, valuing themselves in a positive light, they will be able to take responsibility for their own actions. They will soon realise that they are capable of coping with life independently without the necessity of employing any defence mechanisms and will be able to adopt new strategies instead of Self Defeating Behaviours. Next time, I will look at how a counselling session might be if the focus was on a self defeating behaviour.

For more information on person-centred counselling, search for person centred approach/ person centred therapy, or client centred therapy. There is a lot of information on the Internet about this.

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. I would love to hear from you!

 

References

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.

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

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

 

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

28. Self Defeating Behaviours (part 4)

Self Defeating Behaviours: Perpetuating the cycle

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I know that this behaviour is not good for me but why am I still doing it? The cycle of adopting self-defeating behaviours (SDB) is often perpetuated through another self defeating technique of ‘minimising the effects’. This involves rationalising the SDBs, i.e., defending your behaviour against any alternative healthier option. There are many minimising techniques including: making a joke of it, hiding from it (‘ostrich syndrome’ –sticking your head in the sand to not see it); self anaesthesia (numbing the pain either through drugs, alcohol and other external sources, or internally, i.e., depression, leaving you unable to ‘feel’ anything – neither sad nor happy); keeping busy (you believe that you are so busy that there is never enough time to ‘face’ up to it); ‘self made Messiah syndrome’ (you believe that you must not feel pleasure and should only be suffering, proving how good you are and that, for example, you deserve to go to heaven); ‘passing the buck’ (putting all responsibilities onto others, believing that you can do it better than anyone else could); and ‘there’s no point anyway’ syndrome (very common amongst teenagers where the nihilistic viewpoint of ‘we’re all going to die anyway’ comes in very handy to excuse putting in any effort to try anything).

The cycle of SDBs is perpetuated through a fear of change which involves making excuses and (unintentionally) ‘lying’ about such behaviours. A smoker, for example, will have many excuses up their sleeve, a common one being “I only smoke a few a day”. The smoker lies to everyone (including themselves) out of fear of change, fear of how they could possibly cope in life without smoking, fear of failure (i.e., failing to give up), and even the fear of successfully giving up (i.e., they might have to face many other challenges, change of friends, change of habits). Next week, I look at how we can help or change self defeating behaviours.

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

27. Self-defeating behaviours (part 3)

Self Defeating Behaviours: other factors

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Why am I still using self defeating behaviours (SDB)? In the last blog, I mentioned how ‘coping’ strategies, which have been helpful during a previous similar experience, are stored in one’s subconscious. This helps the conscious mind, in the next similar situation, to quickly ascertain the best course of action.

Alongside the mind, other systems within the body are intrinsically linked too to produce a coherent, whole response. There are systems involved with emotions, drives, survival instincts, hormones, and needs, which are also influential on the response. With all systems working in harmony, this provides us well for our everyday life decisions and actions. However, if a strategy that was once successful but is subsequently harmful (as a strategy for the individual) is stored in the subconscious, this becomes problematic.

For example, if a child, sitting alone in her bedroom listening to her parents shouting angrily at one another, feels anxious but feels comforted by eating cake, then she may resort to eating cake when the situation arises again to ease her anxiety and pain. She possibly observed (externally) her mother eating cake in painful situations and knows that when the ‘chips are down’, cakes and sweet foods are presented to “make everyone feel better”. This ‘coping’ strategy is then likely to extend to eating anything (when there is no cake to fill the physical feeling of emptiness) and may be adopted in other situations that cause anxiety or pain. The SDB is also likely to perpetuate because not only is she believing (internally) that the behaviour is giving her comfort, but she also witnesses such behaviour (externally) that this behaviour ‘gives comfort’ in painful situations. The SDB becomes so habitual that the individual believes that it is just a part of them and who they are which makes it a difficult thing to change.

More on SDBs next time! 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

-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.

-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, 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.

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

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

 

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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behaviourism, Brain Injury, Counselling, Freud, My Story, Uncategorized

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.

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!

 

 

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.