Advertisement

Behavior and Social Issues

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 170–189 | Cite as

Is Behaviorism Becoming a Pseudoscience? Replies to Drs. Wyatt, Midkiff and Wong

  • Jerome C. WakefieldEmail author
Article

Abstract

Wyatt and Midkiff (2006a) and Wong (2006a) argued that the eclipse of token economy treatment for schizophrenia was due not to scientific judgments but to the biological politics of the mental health field. I argued that the treatment’s fate was due to its own limitations, particularly the failure of effects to generalize adequately to natural environments given deinstitutionalization (Wakefield, 2006). Wyatt and Midkiff (2006b) and Wong (2006b) vigorously disputed my claim. In this reply, I analyze their responses regarding generalization, and their arguments for behavioral etiology. I conclude that we all agree that such treatments were not shown to adequately generalize, providing a scientific reason for the treatment’s fate. I also find their etiological arguments unsound. Even-handed attention to evidence, recognition of behaviorism’s limits and strengths, and an integrative approach are essential if behaviorism is not to veer toward pseudoscience.

Keywords

behaviorism behavioral treatment schizophrenia token economy etiology of schizophrenia mental disorder history of psychology history of psychiatry philosophy of science harmful dysfunction biological causation pharmaceutical industry psychotropic medications 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Ayllon, T., & Azrin, N. H. (1968). The token economy: A motivational system for therapy and rehabilitation. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  2. Baker R. (1988). Token economy in a hospital rehabilitation system. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 13, 631–639.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2648.1988.tb01457.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dunlap, G. (1993). Promoting generalization: Current status and functional considerations. In R. Van Houten & S. Axelrod (Eds.), Behavior analysis and treatment (pp. 269–296). New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Fuoco, F. J., & Tyson, W. M. (1986). Behavior therapy in residential programs for psychiatric patients. In F. J. Fuoco & W. P. Christian (Eds.), Behavior analysis and therapy in residential programs (pp. 231–259). New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.Google Scholar
  5. Glynn, S. M., Marder, S. R., Liberman, R. P., Blair, K, Wirshing, D. A., Ross, D., & Mintz, J. (2002). Supplementing clinic-based skills training with manual-based community support sessions: Effects on social adjustment of patients with schizophrenia. American Journal of Psychiatry, 159, 829–837.  https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.159.5.829CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Horner, R. H., Dunlap, G., & Koegel, R. L. (1988). Generalization and maintenance: Life-style changes in applied settings. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  7. Horwitz, A. V., & Wakefield, J. C. (2007). The loss of sadness: How psychiatry turned normal sorrow into depressive disorder. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Hudson, C. G. (2005). Socioeconomic status and mental illness: Tests of the social causation and selection hypothesis. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 75, 3–18.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0002-9432.75.1.3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kazdin, A. E., & Bootzin, R. R. (1972). The token economy: An evaluative review. Journal Of Applied Behavior Analysis, 5, 343–372.  https://doi.org/10.1901/jaba.1972.5-343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kopelowicz, A., Liberman, R. P., & Zarate, R. (2006). Recent advances in social skills training for schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 32 (S1), pp. S12–S23.  https://doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbl023
  11. Lauriello, J., Bustillo, J., & Keith, S. J. (1999). A critical review of research on psychosocial treatment of schizophrenia. Biological Psychiatry, 46(10), 1409–1417.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3223(99)00100-6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Paul, G. L., & Lentz, R. J. (1977). Psychosocial treatment of chronic mental patients: Milieu versus social-learning programs. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Stark, L. J., Collins, F. L. Jr., Osnes, P. G., & Stokes, T. F. (1986). Using reinforcement and cueing to increase healthy snack food choices in preschoolers. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 19, 367–379.  https://doi.org/10.1901/jaba.1986.19-367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Stahl, J. R., & Leitenberg, H. (1976). Behavioral treatment of the chronic mental hospital patient.Google Scholar
  15. In H. Leitenberg (Ed.), Handbook of behavior modification and behavior therapy (pp. 211–241). Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  16. Stokes, T. F., & Baer, D. M. (1977). An implicit technology of generalization. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 10, 349–367.  https://doi.org/10.1901/jaba.1977.10-349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Stokes, T. F., & Osnes, P. G. (1989). An operant pursuit of generalization. Behavior Therapy, 20, 337–355.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0005-7894(89)80054-1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Wakefield, J.C. (2006). Is behaviorism becoming a pseudo-science?: Power versus scientific rationality in the eclipse of token economies by biological psychiatry in the treatment of schizophrenia. Behavior and Social Issues, 15, 202–221.  https://doi.org/10.5210/bsi.v15i2.363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Wong, S. E. (2006a). Behavior analysis of psychotic disorders: Scientific dead end or casualty of the mental health political economy? Behavior and Social Issues, 15, 152–177.  https://doi.org/10.5210/bsi.v15i2.365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Wong, S. E. (2006b). Response to the commentaries. Behavior and Social Issues, 15, 232–243.  https://doi.org/10.5210/bsi.v15i2.390
  21. Wong, S. E., Martinez-Diaz, J. A., Massel, H. K., Edelstein, B. A., Wiegand, W., Bowen, L., & Liberman, R. P. (1993). Conversational skills training with schizophrenic inpatients: A study of generalization across settings and conversants. Behavior Therapy, 24, 285–304.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0005-7894(05)80270-9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Wong, S. E., Morgan, C., Crowley, R., & Baker, J. N. (1996). Using a table game to teach social skills to adolescent psychiatric inpatients: Do the skills generalize? Child and Family Behavior Therapy, 18, 1–17.  https://doi.org/10.1300/J019v18n04_01CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wyatt, W. J., & Midkiff, D. (2006a). Biological psychiatry: A practice in search of a science. Behavior and Social Issues, 15, 132–151.  https://doi.org/10.5210/bsi.v15i2.372
  24. Wyatt, W. J., & Midkiff, D. (2006b). Six-to-one gets the job done: Comments on the reviews. Behavior and Social Issues, 15, 222–231.  https://doi.org/10.5210/bsi.v15i2.388

Copyright information

© Jerome C. Wakefield 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New York UniversityUSA
  2. 2.Silver School of Social WorkNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations