Conditioned reflex therapy

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Reviews the book, Conditioned reflex therapy by Andrew Salter (1949). The argument of this book may be stated in four steps: (1) all behavior can be understood in terms of excitation, inhibition, and disinhibition; (2) excitation is good, inhibition is bad; (3) hypnosis is conditioning; (4) by means of hypnosis, the inhibitory person can in a few treatment hours become an excitatory person and thereby solve all his problems. This is a presumptuous book. The author states in bombastic fashion that his methods (which are essentially authoritarian and directive) are both quick and effective. He sounds the theme of the entire book in this introductory statement: “I say flatly that psychotherapy can be quite rapid and extremely efficacious, I know so because I have done so.” (p. i) Although he attempts to make a case for Pavlovian conditioning theory, his actual “therapy” can be fitted into the Pavlovian model only by the most broad and tenuous analogizing. In spite of its clever and witty writing, and its facade of scientific respectability, the book will be rejected by most psychologists. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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