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Phobias And Addictions Essay

3031 words - 13 pages

Phobias and Addiction
Rachael Thomas
January 26, 2014
Professor Chung

Phobias and Addiction
Webster Dictionary defines phobia as “a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to compelling desire to avoid it” ("PHOBIA," n.d) Whereas Addiction is defined as “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or something that is psychologically or physical habit-forming, as narcotics, to such extent its cessation causes severe trauma” ("addiciton," n.d). So can a phobia be classical condition or an addiction be operant conditioned into existence? Some scientists believe that it can, but then the question is what is operant and classical ...view middle of the document...

After about two weeks of letting little Albert play with the animals, he took the white rat and paired it with a loud noise.
Which was him hitting a steer bar, after a couple of pairings Albert associated the rat with fear. Watson took it a step further to see if it was in fact the rat or the other objects also, which he found out later it was both. Even if he switched between location and environment Albert would still show some extent of fear to anything with fur. After Watson experiment and further studies scientist proposed that classical conditioning can be used as an explanation to some human phobias. An example of one is fear of needles (Kowalski & Westen, 2009).

Phobias equal Classical Conditioning?
Since Watson experiment with little Albert, behaviorists have come up with three assumptions to phobias and classical conditionings there are as followed:
1. humans develop associations between stimuli when they are paired closely in time;
2. the physical nature of this association involves the development of new CNS connections;
3. The new CNS connections cause organisms to respond reflexively to previously neutral stimuli (Ricker, n.d).

Some scientists believe that people are able to connect phobias through condition, and an example that was giving to me was anxiety disorders. On I found and article talking about pairing anxiety to a grocery store. The article states:
“Anxiety can be learned through a type of learning called classical conditioning. This occurs via a process called paired association. Paired association refers to the pairing of anxiety symptoms with a neutral stimulus. A neutral stimulus can be any situation, event, or object that is does not ordinarily elicit a fearful response” (Dombeck, M, & Zupanick, C.E., n.d).
In the example giving in the article a women at a grocery store had learn to pair the store with an uncued panic attack. In this example they explain that the panic attack can happen because of some stressor, be it that the women just lost her job or something else (Dombeck, M & Zupanick, C.E, n.d). It also states that the initial panic attack is outside her immediate awareness, and might know why it came about, just that it did. So “ because of the learning that occurs through classical conditioning, future experiences with a racing heart and dizziness, and a grocery store, may elicit and anxious response” (Dombeck, M & Zupanick, C.E, C.E., n.d).
Another example that I found was a phobia of dogs, it can be a learned response due to classical conditioning. On the website it talks about how when a child is bitten by a dog it associates fear to the dog. So thus as he or she grows up, they avoid dogs. When it comes to this type of fear it can be hard to extinguish the fear, since the person had learned at a young age to fear dogs and avoid at all cost. But I believe one way to overcome it is by parents intervening...

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