Language Conditioning Clinical Issues and Applications in Behavior Therapy

  • Georg H. Eifert
Part of the Perspectives on Individual Differences book series (PIDF)

Abstract

Language is undoubtedly one of the most powerful means by which human behavior is controlled, and most schools of psychotherapy—including behavior therapy—rely on some form of language-based interventions as part of their therapeutic methods. Although animals possess rudimentary forms of language (e.g., the chimp’s sign language), it is generally agreed that complex language is one of the key characteristics that distinguishes humans from animals. Razran (1965) pointed out that a system of psychology based wholly on conditioned reflexes, not drawing a basic distinction between animal and human learning, would be highly mechanistic and reductionistic. Pavlov, in his later years, clearly recognized this danger. He viewed speech as a system of second signals—unique to human beings—that are in essence abstractions of reality and means of generalization. Although he regarded words as conditioned stimuli governed by “the fundamental laws of learning,” he also emphasized the differences between words and other stimuli: “Of course a word is for a man as much a real conditioned stimulus as are other stimuli common to men and animals, yet at the same time it is so all-comprehending that it allows no quantitative or qualitative comparisons with conditioned stimuli in animals” (in Razran, 1965, p. 48).

Keywords

Conditioned Stimulus Behavior Therapy Cognitive Therapy Physiological Arousal Verbal Stimulus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georg H. Eifert
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Behavioral SciencesJames Cook University of North QueenslandTownsvilleAustralia

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