Doctor Howard Liebgold's research study

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Psychology ・APA ・3 Sources

Doctor Howard Liebgold's research study on curing phobias, shyness, and obsessive compulsive disorders discusses numerous strategies that can be employed in the therapy of phobias. Behavioral therapy is one method that has proven to be effective in the treatment of simple or specific phobias. Notably, phobic fear is thought to be acquired through reactivity to known-dangerous stimuli. As a result, natural dread is frequently associated with an aggressive stimulus and is unfortunately generalized to non-noxious stimuli as well. Research had proven that, if a person is exposed to the non-dangerous stimulus time and again without experiencing any harm, the disappearance of the phobic response is witnessed. However, the exercise has to be carried out in a safe and controlled environment since it is not possible to have a case whereby, the patient is exposed to a non-dangerous stimulus for a prolonged period (Liebgold & Morris, 2015). The second alternative method of treating phobic responses is through counter conditioning. The affected individual is trained to substitute a response of relaxation instead of that of fear in the presence of a phobic stimulus. The two feelings are incompatible, and thus the individual ends up conquering the sense of fear.

Remarkably, systemic desensitization is used introduce the feared stimulus in a process that involves three steps. Firstly, the patient is trained to relax, and then the anxiety hierarchy is established of the incentives involved. Finally, using the fear hierarchy, each concern is dealt with starting with the least provoking stimulus to the next least. The researcher made the conclusion that systematic desensitization and behavioral therapy are effective in the treatment of phobias and can be achieved in a single therapeutic period (Liebgold & Morris, 2015). The key aspects of the research that reflect behaviorist principles are that the treatment methods are aimed at understanding the human behavior. The study treats phobic responses as reflexes that are produced as a result of a reaction to a particular stimulus in a certain environment.

Conditioning explains the various changes that I have personally observed both at work and home. At one time I took my younger brother to a local hospital for treatment, and after diagnosis, the doctor prescribed one injection, and we had to line up for the injection room. While queuing, the child who was injected at the moment started crying and eventually, all the kids waiting on the line started crying even before they saw the needle. In this case, the act of crying of the children is as a result of conditioning approach, and consequently, the phobia of the needle was developed by the kids. Also, when I was in my third grade, I experienced a case of bullying, and from that moment, I responded to the mistreatment by fearing other kids and continuously hated the school. Not until very late in my academic life, an individual teacher noted my problem and assisted to overcome my phobia for other children, and my grades started to improve, and I developed a positive attitude towards other pupils and the school. Finally, at work, there is a particular employee who usually reminds us of lunch time. One day, he suggested us to break for lunch before the usual time and even before checking the time I was already hungry. Notably, the response for hunger had been conditioned with the sound of my colleague at work (Lee, 2017). In the three examples, the behavioral theory explains the reflex responses in each scenario that out of a certain stimulus, I developed a particular response over time.

Behaviorism is still relevant in the present days, but there are several limits of behaviorism. Firstly, the current human agency is not acknowledged in behaviorism which describes the conscious human awareness. Also, most of the human behavior does not rely on conditioned reflexes on a single task but also on mental processes that are collaborative and divergent. Mediation through language is among the processes that behaviorism does not explain well (Todd & Morris, 2016). Notably, behaviorists believe that children and babies learned language through punishments and rewards, but in the present day, language learning is a complex process. Therefore, behaviorist approach was not sufficient to explain the totality of language learning.


Lee, V. (2017). Beyond behaviorism. London: Routledge.

Liebgold, H., & Morris, E. (2015). Curing phobias, shyness, and obsessive compulsive disorders. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.

Todd, J., & Morris, E. (2016). Modern perspectives on B.F. Skinner and contemporary behaviorism. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.

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