chapter  3
Everyday behaviour(ism) and therapeutic discourse: deconstructing the ego as verbal nucleus in Skinner
Byand Lacan
Pages 18

The relationship between behaviour and subjectivity is a fraught one in psychology, and how one understands that relationship has wide-ranging implications for how a therapist should work with clients. The theoretical debates in the discipline between behaviourism and phenomenology have been protracted but ultimately fruitless (Wann, 1964). In large part this has been because behaviourists can always re-describe the experiences phenomenologists value in terms of contingencies of reinforcement, while conversely the claims of phenomenology can always make a powerful appeal to deeply rooted common-sense humanism. The theoretical debates are refracted through therapeutic practice in disputes between behavioural therapists inspired by Skinner’s work and humanists following the work of Rogers. The difference between the two positions, where behaviourists deliberately disregard the self and humanists insist that the self should be valued, is, once again, not amenable to any resolution. It is, as it were, a dialogue of the deaf.