1984 Critical Analysis

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1984 Critical Analysis

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1984 by George Orwell, Part 1: Crash Course Literature 401

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Log In Sign Up. All Posts General Guides. Conclusion Precis Hypothesis. Conley Apply filter for Walter G. Copan Apply filter for Anthony H. Funaiole Apply filter for Matthew P. Goodman Apply filter for Michael J. Rossow Apply filter for Daniel F. Carter Apply filter for James E. Garvelink Apply filter for Glenn S. Green Apply filter for Shannon N. Rosen Apply filter for Norman T. Zarate Apply filter for Denise E. To reiterate the important themes at this point, it bears repeating that an idiographic analysis is required. Some cases of depression may be adequately conceptualized in terms of Lewinsohn's traditional model of reductions in response-contingent positive reinforcement, whereas others may be more accurately conceptualized in terms of ACT's or BA's models of avoidance.

In both the traditional model and the new conceptualizations, the core experience is seen as an elicited response to environmental events that produce reductions in positive reinforcement. However, the new conceptualizations speculate how one's reaction to that experience may in fact perpetuate and exacerbate it, and in some cases this may be the case. Allowing that a private response is functionally aversive creates some problems for behavior analysis.

Simply put, the classic exhortation to focus functional analyses on manipulable environmental variables may lead some to conclude that private events are simple respondent by-products and have no functional value. This stance on the nonfunctional value of private events is one of the great perplexities of behavior analysis. It is a perplexity because, to most humans, thoughts and emotions—as we have come to label them—are not only felt quite strongly at times but it feels as if they control our behavior Schnaitter, This is especially true regarding avoidance behavior, which is often described as negatively reinforced by a reduction in aversive emotional experience e. In other words, it seems as if we avoid not only the conditions that occasion depression but also feeling depression itself.

Skinner presented a much more nuanced and complex view. On the one hand, he consistently defined reinforcers and discriminative stimuli as environmental stimuli on pragmatic rather than ontological grounds Skinner, , Simply put, reinforcers are labeled as such only if functional analysis has determined, or at least in principle could determine, that a manipulable event evidences such a function. Private events in general are not manipulable in this sense and thus have been typically defined as dependent rather than independent variables. Put differently, Skinner consistently argued that emotions are not causes. However, in other places Skinner allowed private events to participate, partially, in the control of behavior.

For example, he wrote,. Emotional responses may be interpreted as in part an escape from the emotional components of anxiety. Thus we avoid the dentist's office, not only because it precedes painful stimulation and is therefore a negative reinforcer, but because, having preceded such stimulation, it arouses a complex emotional condition which is also aversive. The total effect may be extremely powerful. In this example, the emotional components of anxiety clearly have taken on functional stimulus properties. Likewise, Skinner's analysis of self-knowledge , depended heavily on the supposition that private events exert discriminative control over tacting.

In this case, the use of the term private event rather than private behavior may have been Skinner's acknowledgment of the complexity, but the complexity is not resolved simply by changing the term. Thus, it is consistent with behavior analysis or at least, with behavior analysis's inconsistency to allow functionally salient private events to evoke avoidance behavior. Perhaps the biggest obstacle for traditional behavioral theorists to overcome when discussing depression is the role of language.

In general, an extremely large and unquestionable body of research establishes the presence of negative cognitive content during depressive episodes, leading cognitive researchers to assume a causal role for cognition in depression D. Regardless, it is clear that negative thinking predominates in many depressions, and such thinking may elicit aversive affect. Research on stimulus equivalence e. Simply put, through participation in equivalence relations with nonverbal stimuli, verbal stimuli may obtain eliciting functions.

Although there are many examples of this effect, perhaps the clearest example is work by Dougher and colleagues on the transfer of aversive elicitation and avoidance functions through equivalence classes. Using match-to-sample procedures, Dougher, Augustson, Markham, Greenway, and Wulfert taught 8 subjects two four-member equivalence classes, paired one member of one class with electric shock, and then demonstrated transfer of elicited arousal to other members of the class that had not been directly paired with the shock.

Augustson and Dougher subsequently demonstrated that avoidance responding similarly transfers through equivalence classes. After pairing one member of one class with shock, subjects were taught that they could avoid this member by repeatedly pressing a key on the keyboard. Subjects then demonstrated transfer of avoidance response functions to other class members. According to RFT, verbal behavior including thinking is technically seen as the behavior of framing events relationally: responding to one stimulus in terms of its given or inferred relation to other stimuli. For example, a woman caught speeding receives a ticket.

If that person thinks that people who get speeding tickets are bad drivers, she may then consider herself a bad driver. RFT views equivalence as just one type of relation i. Thus if that same woman who received a speeding ticket has a history of avoiding authority figures who reprimanded her in the past e. These stimulus functions may be quite arbitrary and unrelated to current environmental features. Thus, the behavior of relational framing has a potentially transformative effect on the environment; environmental stimuli that would otherwise control behavior may not do so and new stimuli, idiosyncratic to the individual's verbal learning history, may exert control.

The importance of these findings to depression, and other psychological disorders, cannot be overstated. To the extent that stimulus equivalence and RFT present a behavior-analytic model of language and cognition, these theories provide behavior analysts with a vocabulary and theory with which cognitive variables can be conceptualized and understood. Negative self-statements so often seen in depression acquire their meanings and functions through transformations of function that occur in relational framing. For verbal stimuli to obtain these specific functions, previous specific-exemplar training involving the specific stimuli participating in relational frames is not necessary. All that is necessary is a history that establishes relational framing as a generalized operant and a history in which the specific stimuli at issue are related in a relational network.

There appear to be two uses of the term relational network , and a brief diversion on this issue is necessary because one of the usages may be potentially confusing to behavior analysts. Second, a relational network may be used to graphically depict the full set of relations between specific stimuli and the transformations of function that are relevant to a particular stimulus. Such networks are often displayed in RFT or stimulus equivalence experiments to depict the specific relations trained, but a network may also be employed more loosely when the history can only be assumed.

For example, Blackledge displayed a network to account for a person taking a walk in the woods that elicits fear due to a verbal history in which it was learned that snakes are to be found in woods. This usage bears considerable resemblance to nonbehavioral entities such as schemas and requires clarification. One has to be careful to maintain that the network, unlike a schema, is the not the cause of behavior. The network is a description of a history, and it is this history, along with the current environmental and verbal events, that functions as the cause.

The history is described in terms of a network to emphasize how the functions of any term in the network may be transformed in accordance with the network, but such transformations are a product of a history of verbal behavior described as a network, not the network per se. It is easy to lose sight of behavior analysis at this point; thus, it is important to remember that these functions of relational framing were obtained through a history of interaction with the social and verbal community. Historical environmental factors result in the transformation and reduction of control by the current environment. These effects are easily described in terms of relational networks and stimulus functions that are transformed across members of the network.

The important point is that verbal behavior can dysregulate and extend normal adaptive experiences of aversive elicitation into disordered experiences. Consider an individual who has received a poor work evaluation. This naturally elicits aversive affect that, if transient, can be considered normal and adaptive. However, this individual may begin to think about the event, and the content of thinking will be a complex product of multiple historical and current antecedents.

The key point is that the core experience of depression, the elicited affect, was normal and adaptive without verbal elaboration. With verbal elaboration, however, the experience is magnified and extended, and may become disordered. Examples of verbal elaborations of potentially normal experiences abound in the clinical literature on depression. Discussion of whether such cognitive interventions are successful, for the reasons cognitive therapists say they are, is beyond the scope of this paper. Rather, we simply highlight the finding that many depressed individuals appear to have become depressed in the absence of environmental histories that would indicate such a response to be adaptive, and point to verbal behavior to account for the elaboration of such histories into a disorder.

Language vastly expands the range of situations that can function as depression-eliciting and depression-maintaining stimuli, because the functions of the stimuli largely may be determined by one's idiosyncratic verbal learning history. As an example, a depressed individual may respond to all social events as participating in a verbal relation with a host of other aversive stimuli e. Although another individual may respond to the relation between the stimuli party and stressful on occasion, there is flexibility in responding based on other historical and contextual features. For the depressed individual, however, this verbal class may be so well formed through a fairly idiosyncratic history of verbal and nonverbal pairings of these stimuli, and so negatively reinforced through past derived escape and avoidance experiences, that there may be few or no contexts in which the term party does not elicit the functions of other aversive stimuli or function as a derived discriminative stimulus for escape or avoidance.

This rigid avoidance repertoire vastly narrows the range of behavioral options available and most likely will lead to rather stable reductions in response-contingent social reinforcement. In addition to negative cognitive content in depression, research clearly identifies a particular ruminative cognitive style in depression. A complete behavioral analysis of depression needs to account for the relation between negative cognitive content and depressed mood as well as the function of rumination.

An appreciation of the somewhat unique features of verbal behavior in terms of antecedent and consequential control provides some insight into the function of rumination in depression. First, it bears repeating that thinking, like any behavior, is under the control of multiple and complex historical and situational stimuli. Consider a depressed student attending a lecture in a class in which she is doing poorly. She is having a hard time keeping up with the professor, and thoughts about her poor performance on the last test occur.

The initial stimuli for such thoughts are obvious. As this continues, it is common that this student may end up thinking about a completely different topic, with unexpected twists and turns in thought, arriving at thoughts that she will never get her degree, that there must be something wrong with her brain, and that she is a complete failure. She now begins to think about a negative interaction with a friend the previous day, and thinks that her friendship was never genuine, that she is a failure as a friend as well as in school, and so forth.

These twists and turns may increasingly be under the stimulus control of previous thoughts and decreasingly under the control of the current external environment. As described by RFT, the contextual cues that occasion relational framing and its content may themselves be relational and arbitrary in nature; thus, other than previous verbal behavior which may be private , little environmental support is necessary to occasion verbal behavior and control its content.

This in fact is consistent with Skinner's account. We may refer to such thinking instead as rumination. The question of reinforcing variables for such behavior remains. RFT suggests that verbal behavior occurs so frequently and relentlessly because of a history of reinforcement provided by the wider community for coherence or sense making in one's verbal behavior see Hayes et al. It is argued that during early language-training experiences, the verbal behavior of the speaker is evaluated for coherence by the verbal community and is differentially reinforced.

Over time, these processes the verbal behavior, its evaluation in terms of coherence, and its reinforcement become covert and automatic so that the derivation and rehearsal of coherent verbal relations becomes self-reinforcing see Barnes-Holmes et al. Skinner highlighted that thinking is productive, in that it has an effect on the thinker and is reinforcing because it does so. Both processes are undoubtedly applicable. We would like the depressed student to think about her class performance and the poor friend interaction in such a way that it leads to improved performances and interactions in the future, but in many cases it does not. More likely is an avoidance function—the rumination may function to reduce the anxiety about the class performance and the interaction without increasing the anxiety of dealing with the problems in the moments they occur.

As long as the cognitive solutions make sense and reduce anxiety, the rumination may continue, even if it is ultimately unproductive. Accepting that sense making is reinforcing, one may still argue that the content of rumination often does not make sense and should not be reinforcing. In the current example, one poor performance in a class does not make one a failure as a student, and one poor friend interaction does not make one a failure as a friend. Indeed, pointing out that such content is not logical and is not evidence based is the hallmark of cognitive therapy Beck et al. However, to a behavior analyst sense making is idiographic and occurs in the context of the individual's unique history and experiences.

The current context also plays a role: The negative affect of depression provides a context in which interpretations of failure make sense, and the interpretation of friendship failure makes sense given the previous interpretation of school failure. An important point is that as this individual continues to ruminate, the class lecture is continuing and the student is now largely divorced from contact with any potentially external controlling variables. Thus, verbal behavior, when it occurs, may be quite relentless in overpowering, transforming, and reducing environmental control.

As seen in the example of rumination, if the aforementioned student continues ruminative thought throughout her class period she would not be engaged in class discussions and would therefore miss any opportunities of praise or encouragement from the professor. She may also miss necessary information for her next assignment, thereby not only reducing her rate of receiving response-contingent reinforcement but also increasing the likelihood of punishment through a lowered grade. After leaving class and realizing this mistake, she may continue to ruminate now about her difficulty in lecture as well as her previous interaction, which results in further attentional distancing from her immediate environment and additional negative affect.

There are many pathways to depression. Depression is not a precise, technical term, has no essential composition, and is not a syndrome. The term refers to a core experience of feeling sad or down and to associated symptoms that vary widely. This symptomatic heterogeneity is due to the heterogeneity of historical antecedents and consequences. The core experience may be seen as an elicited by-product of losses of, reductions in, or persistently insufficient levels of positive reinforcement. However, Lewinsohn , with his focus on environments characterized directly by losses of response-contingent positive reinforcement, presented a fairly unitary operant model that obscured the heterogeneity of depressive symptom profiles.

Thus, idiographic assessment is required to determine both the relative importance of positive and aversive control and to determine specific target variables for any given individual. Clinical behavior analysts treating depression would be well served to engage in detailed, idiographic, and historical functional assessments that inform treatment course and technique. We argue that a modern behavioral account of depression must incorporate controlling variables at both environmental and interoceptive levels, with a recognition of the role of avoidance and verbal behavioral processes. We have emphasized that the core experience of depression is a private event—elicited negative affect that is felt and tacted in a variety of ways. This affect itself is not problematic and is in fact adaptive, but it becomes chronic, maladaptive, or dysregulated through environmental and learned behavioral processes.

A key process may be avoidance: Responses to the original private events that function to avoid or escape the event may be negatively reinforced and establish a cycle of increasing negative affect and avoidance, a vicious spiral into depression. Verbal processes may be particularly important as well, in that research on stimulus equivalence and RFT clearly demonstrates how private stimulus events can be transformed and elaborated when related verbally to other events. Thus, stimulus events that would not otherwise function to elicit depressive affect may come to do so through verbal processes, already aversive stimuli may become more so through verbal processes, and verbal processes may establish avoidance and other dysfunctional responses to such stimuli that otherwise would not be established.

Rumination—a hallmark feature of depression—is an example of how verbal behavioral processes may result in negative reinforcement through reducing contact with the current physical environment but exacerbate depressive functioning. Behavior-analytic research on the role of verbal processes in depression is in its infancy, but as research in these areas continues to accumulate, analyses of complex phenomena such as depression may benefit greatly. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Behav Anal v. Behav Anal. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jonathan W Kanter, P.

Copyright The Association for Behavior Analysis. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract In this article we discuss the traditional behavioral models of depression and some of the challenges analyzing a phenomenon with such complex and varied features. Keywords: clinical depression, clinical behavior analysis. What Is Depression? Tacting Depression and Its Symptoms We describe depression in radical behavioral terms, emphasizing the occasions on which the term is used and deemphasizing any underlying unitary disease, physiological, or emotional state to which the term refers.

Traditional Behavioral Models of Depression Skinner wrote very little on depression; when he did, he emphasized overt behavior rather than the core affective experience, in line with an operant rather than respondent model. Aversive Control in Depression Skinner also suggested that depression may be an emotional response to aversive controlling practices, especially aversive social control , pp. An Adaptive Syndrome or Maladaptive Response? Genetics and Evolutionary Theories In contrast to an idiographic functional analysis of depression, the medical disease model posits that depression is a syndrome or multiple syndromes and one inherits risk for this syndromal response.

The Shift From Adaptive to Maladaptive Behavior As discussed above, elicited affective experiences are normal, adaptive, and not disordered. Avoidance of Private Events Two similar processes by which an adaptive elicited response can lead to chronic and maladaptive depression in the absence of chronically maladaptive environments recently have been proposed and linked to treatment techniques: Martell, Addis, and Jacobson's theory behind behavioral activation BA and Hayes et al. The Functions of Private Events in Behavior Analysis Allowing that a private response is functionally aversive creates some problems for behavior analysis.

For example, he wrote, Emotional responses may be interpreted as in part an escape from the emotional components of anxiety. The Role of Verbal Behavior in Depression Perhaps the biggest obstacle for traditional behavioral theorists to overcome when discussing depression is the role of language. The Function of Rumination In addition to negative cognitive content in depression, research clearly identifies a particular ruminative cognitive style in depression.

Summary and Conclusions There are many pathways to depression. References Allen N. B, Badcock P. The social risk hypothesis of depressed mood: Evolutionary, psychosocial, and neurobiological perspectives. Psychological Bulletin. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders , text rev. Washington, DC: Author; O, Thomas M, Danton W. A cost-effectiveness analysis of cognitive behavior therapy and fluoxetine Prozac in the treatment of depression.

Behavior Therapy. M, Dougher M. The transfer of avoidance evoking functions through stimulus equivalence classes. Grief: Its nature and significance. Anxiety and its disorders: The nature and treatment of anxiety and panic 2nd ed. New York: Guilford; Relational frame theory and stimulus equivalence are fundamentally different: A reply to Saunders' commentary. The Psychological Record. Explaining complex behavior: Two perspectives on the concept of generalized operant classes?

Multiple stimulus relations and the transformation of stimulus functions. In: Hayes S. Relational frame theory: A post-Skinnerian account of human language and cognition. New York: Plenum; A, Gotlib I. Psychosocial functioning and depression: Distinguishing among antecedents, concomitants, and consequences. E, Kanter J. W, Busch A. M, Richardson J. V, Barnes-Holmes D. The differential effect of instructions on dysphoric and non-dysphoric individuals. T, Rush A. J, Shaw B. F, Emery G. Cognitive therapy of depression.

G, Moos R. Chronic and nonchronic unipolar depression: The differential role of environmental stressors and resources. An introduction to relational frame theory: Basics and applications. The Behavior Analyst Today. Behavior analysis and depression. In: Dougher M, editor. Clinical behavior: Analytic approaches to treatment. Reno: Context Press; Attachment and loss: Vol. Loss, sadness and depression. New York: Basic Books; J, Williams W. The nature—nurture debate: The essential readings. Malden, MA: Blackwell; A, Beck A. T, Alford B. Scientific foundations of cognitive theory and therapy of depression. New York: Wiley; A, Watson D. Tripartite model of anxiety and depression: Psychometric evidence and taxonomic implications.

Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

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