Psychology Essay Example: Conditioning Treatment of Phobia

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Phobia may be termed as an overwhelming anxiety, and a disruption of someones normal body functioning and activities brought about by a particular stimulus (Marks, 2013). Specific or simple phobias have undergone effective treatment through undergoing conditioned behaviors. According to the researchers, the response of the phobia occurs because of acquired reflex on a non-dangerous stimulus. When a person is exposed to non-dangerous stimuli for some time, s/he may change the responses, and the phobia may gradually extinguish itself with time (Moscovitch, 2009). The research done indicates that setting up therapy for some extended period. Since the reduction of the response to the stimuli on phobia does not usually take place naturally, the set-up of the phobic treatment has to be safe and take place in a controlled setting. Conditioning the phobic victim ought to be treated in an exposed treatment.

The treatment of phobia may take one or more methods. According to the article, at least four methods can be tried to reduce the response to the stimuli that causes phobia to a person. One method applied is by use of psychoanalysis. In this method, one may have a phobia over something for a very long time. It could have originated from the young age of a person but by addressing the issue to the full-grown person over her/his, worry could help him/her from detaching the stimulus. Although this method may require the patient to be committed for a long time, it would eventually assist the person to eliminate the phobia.

The second method is using the exposure therapy. The cognitive behaviorists support this method. According to Marks, (2013) avoidance of the feared stimulus reinforces the fear while on exposing the person to the stimulus diminishes the phobia. In this method, the victim when exposed to the stimulus in a controlled and safe environment, his/her cognitive distortions would be challenged and eventually diminish. It requires the victim and the psychologist to work together to identify the cause of the fear and key barriers(Coelho & Purkis, 2009). A list of stimuli is written starting from the least to the most causing anxiety.

Virtual reality exposure is the third method of treating phobia. This method employs the modern technology to simulate exposure therapy method. Through the method, a virtual sense is designed making it possible to create a realistic encounter with the stimulus that causes fear. This approach employs a perspective of a person sitting in front of the computer to have a similar interaction with the real cause stimulus (Coelho & Purkis, 2009). The program in the computer creates the image of the reality and impression tends to stimulate the victim who response adapts to the situation which tends to reduce the phobia gradually.

The fourth method is by the use of the eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. Coelho and Purkis, (2009) show that this method is useful in treating the phobia that is caused specifically by a certain stimulus. Necessary steps are employed to reduce the phobia.

The findings from the research show that phobia is not permanent but necessary measures have to be taken to treat those people that it. Employing one method, many not give satisfying result but with more alternatives can improve the reaction of the victim towards the stimulus.

Conditioning related to personal behaviour

Some of the behaviors if not controlled or treated at an early stage could affect one at a later stage. There were those behaviors that my parents never encouraged at all. They emphasize on bringing up a kid who will become responsible, hardworking, honest to his work, respectful and faithful. The values I have today were shaped at an early stage by the parents. One of the behaviors that was corrected is from being an irresponsible kid to a responsible one. My parent corrected the behaviors by either applying negative reinforcement or positive reinforcement(Marks, 2013). When given an assignment from school and I failed to do it on time, my parents punished me through inflicting pain (negative reinforcement) (Emmelkamp, 2012). The next time we were given the assignment I would make sure I have it at the right time. I would be rewarded whenever I did the assignment earlier and had done correctly. This made me work harder.

The second behavior I was corrected was from being a dishonest person to an honest one. One day when my friends and I stole our puppy and sold it to one of our fathers friend. Unfortunately, the friend broke the news to our father who happened to question us. None was ready to confess, and when he was about to give us some strokes, one of our friends decided to admit. His honesty made him escape the strokes, but the rest of us were punished, one for being dishonest and for stealing the puppy. The third example of the behavior corrected was that of faithfulness. I would be rewarded when my parents left me the house and came back only to find things in order. I became aware of the need of having these values to please my parents only to find myself at maturity age able to live and relate well with ma colleagues at work as well as the administration.

Relevance of conditioning today

Conditioning has become a very influential and helpful in the area of psychology today. Its ability to provide practical solutions to many of the problems today in human behavior has made it be preferred more than any other methods. In the field of education, conditioning has become part of modifying certain behaviors to the students (Ertmer, & Newby 2013). When they are required to pass excellently, operant conditioning is applied where they are rewarded. Ertmer and Newby (2013) support that conditioning is also applied when certain unwanted behaviors are needed to be eliminated from the students. People with a wide variety of problems in the society are helped to solve them through conditioning. Such problems include obesity, smoking, delinquency, alcoholism, and aggression which if allowed to continue taking place in the society may cause harm.

However, behaviorism has its limitations. They include its inability to account for the other types of learning. Learning can also take place without the use of reinforcement and punishment it attributes the human behavior to the external factors only. The second weakness of the behaviorism is that human can adapt to the new behavior even after a new information is introduced. It uses a one-dimensional approach to understanding the behavior of human beings. Behavioral theories do not account for free will as well as the internal influence like moods, thoughts and the feelings



Coelho, C. M., & Purkis, H. (2009). The origins of specific phobias: Influential theories and current perspectives. Review of General Psychology, 13(4), 335.

Emmelkamp, P. M. (2012). Phobic and obsessive-compulsive disorders: Theory, research, and practice. Springer Science & Business Media.

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (2013). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26(2), 43-71.

Marks, I. M. (2013). Fears and phobias. Academic Press.

Moscovitch, D. A. (2009). What is the core fear in social phobia? A new model to facilitate individualized case conceptualization and treatment. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 16(2), 123-134.


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