Knowledge is a tree, not a conclusion, and it has been a tree for all of time. Sometime, however, it verboten in the Bible with a didactic “tale” apparently by oligarchs telling the average religious person to view the tree of knowledge and its information as verboten. This is the beginning of the limits and control of information necessary for oligarchic dominance, as opposed to capital-type control which is more commodity-based --though information is now a commodity as “intellectual property.” (With “intellectual” being a strong word for the slurry capital pumps into the population.)

The most important extension of this type of information control currently exists as academia with its early revival of control as the dialectic and didactic by academy founders Socrates and Plato in ancient Athens, and recently by Hegel to fit current capital. Important is that these instructors specifically used sexual abuse to control, which survived to our time as, for instance, the Aboriginal residence schools openly, and covertly elsewhere.

Causality is a rational reduction of the complexity of life saying that “if something happens in relation to something else, that something else caused the first thing.” As a rational reduction, it is a “dumbing-down” of all the highly sophisticade life-system that affect us. Knowledge is naturally structured both in society and in our minds in tree structures, also called “complex data structures” Personally, I have never been “causal” (I believe) because I have been influenced by aboriginal knowledge organization, and also abstract art and music early on as a child with access to all of New York’s museums and libraries (access has since been restricted to children.)

If I something is unavoidably causal, I say “simple math” --this causes that, w/o making a bid deal about it.

Empiricism is the scientific method (and system) built from causality and is considered the only (measurement) science, even by scientist who should know better. It suffers from being highly-fractured, as it is built from independent causal conclusions that also tend to be ego-vehicles from empiricist scientists. Another widely-misused term is “objective” as a synomym for “cruel” such that normal human thinking, such as the recollection of experiences, is excluded from empiricist conclusions; only empiricist numbers are used, often as an output of highly-purposed statistical systems. Dependance on statistics is such that statistics now often produce hypothesis and theory, that is validated by the same statistical systems. Information from other sources such as experience and observation, no matter how detailed, cannot test well against conclusive information produced specifically to test well by statistical systems. This statistical reality is most true for current control of the mind (both human and animal) in cognitive-behavioral strategies of CBT. Interestingly, in CBT, the dialectic method as the socratic method is also key for (as they say) “thought control.”

Objectivism, such as Ayn Rand’s and (current-capital’s) Adam Smith’s objectivism simply “objectify’s” people to make then inanimate numbers rather than feeling people to allow for capital exploitation. As it happens, capital-supporting empiricism, as info-oligarchic, also leverages this, and fills its capital-supportive role by defining and maintaining it as its own from of exploitation, originally sexual abuse.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Phobias and behavioral conditioning

This writing shows the influence of pain in psychology; I don't think I would ever use such an example in real life as a child being burned with hot metal.

Phobias are learned behaviors, and can be unlearned.  Classical conditioning typically initiates a phobia, and operant conditioning maintains the phobia.  The first three examples are fictionalized scenarios developed from Dyce's lecture material (J. Dyce, personal communication, n.d.). 

In classical conditioning, unconditioned and conditioned processes are parallel:
  1. Cherry-red hot metal is in the pre-learning phase of a conditioned stimulus.  As it has a pretty color, a person, perhaps a child, may be attracted rather than fearful.
  2. The person touches it (unconditioned stimulus), and gets burned badly (unconditioned response), and learns that cherry-red metal inflicts pain when touched.
  3. The sight of cherry-red metal (conditioned stimulus) results in fear (conditioned response) because of the injury.

In operant conditioning, an initial stimulus of fear is necessary to create phobic behavior:
  1. Discriminative stimulus: The learning from the consequence of a previous experience creates a fear.
  2. Operant response: A person avoids the activity.
  3. Reinforcement: The consequence is a feeling of comfort from avoiding the activity (that reinforces the stimulus and response).

A person may have a minor car accident, and hence fear driving as conditioned response to the accident.  By avoiding driving, he further reinforces the influence of the minor accident, which makes the phobia more difficult to overcome.

In classical conditioning therapy, a new parallel conditioned stimulus is added by teaching someone how to correctly use hot metal.  Beneficial experiences of working with the hot metal without getting burned extinguish the fear of the hot metal.  This example might be found in the historical context of the "cottage blacksmith."

The person who suffered a burn, perhaps as a child, is introduced to the tools necessary for working with hot metal.  Then, using cold metal for practice to gradually reduce the fear, or desensitize the conditioned response, the person is taught how to pick up the metal.  After some practice, the person successfully holds the hot metal with the tools.  This begins the extinguishing process so that, with more experience, the fear reduces to normal, but necessary, caution, rather than acting as a phobia.

As reinforcement is a component of the operant model, operant therapies for phobias in children require that parents stop reinforcing the phobia, which presumably happens when parents help the child avoid the fear-causing stimulus (Lazarus, Davison, & Polefka, 1965) and reinforce the desired behavior (Glasscock, & MacLean, 1990).  In a case study of a girl who had developed a fear of dogs, the parents were asked to give social praise when the girl spent time playing with dogs recruited for her therapy. 

Assuming that the girl who had developed a fear of dogs had liked dogs prior to having a bad experience such as being bitten by a dog, then she, at a certain point, would like dogs again with the success of her therapy, which was classical desensitization (Glasscock, & MacLean, 1990).  At this point, another operant scenario takes place; her improved experiences with dogs reinforce her interactions with her family dog.  This develops an encouraging discriminative stimulus that further supports positive interactions that, in turn, provide further reinforcement.


Glasscock, S., & MacLean Jr., W. (1990). Use of contact desensitization and shaping in the treatment of dog phobia and generalized fear of the outdoors. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 19(2), 169. Retrieved from Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection database.

Lazarus, A., Davison, G., & Polefka, D. (1965). Classical and operant factors in the treatment of a school phobia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 70(3), 225-229. doi:10.1037/h0022130.

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