chapter  15
19 Pages

Operant conditioning and clinical psychology

ByDerek Blackman

This chapter explains the different orientations of traditional psychiatrists and psychologists with a background of operant conditioning. The general implications of operant conditioning for clinical psychology are further illustrated in a report by E. Haughton and T. Ayllon. Having shown the power of the simple conditioning principles by changing an 'idle' schizophrenic into a 'compulsive' pacer, Haughton and Ayllon then invited two independent psychiatrists to observe and evaluate the patient. Operant conditioning principles have also been employed to establish social co-operation in childhood schizophrenics, verbal behaviour in mutes and toilet training. There even exists in the literature a report on the effective alleviation of constipation by operant conditioning techniques. One can see then, that the interpretation of behaviour prompted by operant conditioning experiments with animals is at present being tested with human behaviour in many different situations; the success it has achieved so far is promising.