Psychological Self-Help

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structure? Why are more schizophrenics born in late winter and early
There is also evidence that each species has evolved differently in
terms of how quickly certain things are learned, e.g. rats quickly learn
to fear a rubber hedgehog (a natural enemy), birds instinctively fear
large predator birds, humans tend to fear speaking in front of groups,
etc. Other examples of quick conditioning are given above. Perhaps
one of the most important species differences to realize is that
reinforcements affect rats differently than humans. Most psychology
books go into great detail about how different "schedules of
reinforcement" produce very different behavior. THIS IS BASED ON
RATS AND PIGEONS. In fact, HUMANS don't seem to be very sensitive
to the schedule of reinforcement (variable ratio, fixed interval, etc.).
Psychology textbooks, like early learning theorists, oversimplify things. 
Biology seems to have some amazing effects in certain unusual
conditioning situations, such as using drugs (which may help us
understand addiction). Suppose you pair repeatedly a certain stimulus
or S (perhaps a specific environment) with taking heroin. After a while,
the S (being in that situation) will produce physiological reactions
similar to taking heroin, i.e. fast heart rate and feeling high.
Conditioning has occurred. But this conditioned physiological reaction
to the environment gradually starts to change on its own. The same S
(being in the drug-taking situation) starts to produce the opposite
physiological reactions, namely, low heart rate, feeling very down, and
craving more heroin. Why does the CR, conditioned response,
mysteriously change to a physiological reaction totally opposite to the
UCR, the unconditioned response to heroin? The best explanation is
biological: perhaps the body learns to prepare in advance for the
anticipated shock of a drug injection by lowering the heart rate and
making other adjustments which reverse the original conditioned
response. Again, conditioning is not a blind, mechanical pairing
process, it is a very adaptive response of the body for survival (Leahey
& Harris, 1989). We have a fantastic brain...and a wise body. Yet,
some mistakes are made. 
Finally, the early behaviorists neglected to pass along valuable
knowledge to the ordinary person. Experimentalists, first of all, tend to
publish in obscure journals, obscure because they cater only to
theorists who are haggling over fine points of a theory that will soon
be replaced by another theory. Secondly, notwithstanding Skinner's
utopian and teaching machine ideas, experimental psychologists seem
to have little interest in informing ordinary people. They say they are
seeking "basic knowledge." Maybe that focus explains why there was a
40 year delay between Watson's work with Little Albert and the use of
a classical procedure called desensitization with fearful clients in
therapy. As we will see, the very limited applied research has been
directed almost exclusively towards helping the professional therapist
(behavior modifier) or human efficiency expert or ad agency or
educational researcher. It was as though the ordinary person was
seen, like the rat or pigeon, as mechanical and unthinking--mindless!
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