Psychological Self-Help

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light and being paralyzed. It was one trial learning, just like in a
serious accident. (2) The terror response never diminished. Naturally
the experimenters tried to remove the fear. But they couldn't. They
followed, according to learning theory at the time, the extinction
procedure of presenting the conditioned stimulus--light or tone--
without the unconditioned stimulus--the drug. They provided 100
extinction trials. The fear response did not diminish! The conclusion at
the time was that fears may not go away, maybe they are just
overridden with stronger relaxed responses. 
The old conception of classical conditioning was that an association
was learned when a CS and an UCS were paired together several
times. That is still the essence of classical conditioning. But, thirty
years ago we assumed the mind had nothing to do with this
conditioning process. Today, experts say the CS arouses expectancies
about the UCS (actually we develop a mental representation of the
UCS) and then, as we have experience with the UCS, we evaluate and
develop different reactions to the UCS which, of course, influences the
final conditioned response (CR). Clearly, a lot of mental events
influence the CS-UCS connection. 
According to Davey (1992), the new theories suggest a
conditioning-cognitive sequence is like this: 
conception of the
Stimulus (UCS)
of the UCS
Steps 2 and 4 are places where cognitive factors can affect the
conditioned response (CR). How is this done? Consider this example, if
your lights dim slightly before a very loud noise, what you think all this
means makes a great difference in how you respond. If you think the
dimming lights and noise means an earthquake is occurring or that
your house is falling on you or the electrical system may set the house
on fire, you will probably have a strong panic reaction. If, with a little
experience, you learn that your huge new sound system dims the
lights right before your favorite music blasts forth, you will soon be
having a pleasant reaction to the dimming lights. If someone had told
you to expect the lights to dim, your startle or fear response would be
slight even the first time. If you believe the dimming of the lights is
perfectly normal and poses no danger, you have a different reaction
than if you believe you have overloaded the circuit and caused a fire
hazard. Beyond all this cognitive influence on a classically conditioned
response, recent research has found that experience with the UCS (in
this case an unexpected loud sound blast) without the dimming lights
(during the daytime) can affect your conditioned reaction too. Being
told by an expert that loud sounds damage your hearing permanently
will also influence your conditioned reaction. Likewise, observing your
reactions to the CS or the UCS as well as using various coping
strategies can alter your conditioned response (CR) to the conditioned
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