Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Behavioral Reformation

The leaders of the western world have sought many methods to secure authoritarian rule by using behavior modification techniques that are disquised as treatment for illness and/or punishment for what is unfashionable.

Fashion influences the market and reinforces the values that authoritarian leaders decide will prevent public dissent.

Those who were described as explorers, pilgrims, and revolutionists, who found their way to the eastern shores of what is now considered the United States, had no map that directed them to this place and many of the ideals they had for creating a liberated land had not been thoroughly planned.

As soon as they found that there were people that already occupied this land, those people were described as savages because of their radically different behavior and lifestyle. This was of course the first justification for war that occured within the land that they would claim as their own and call the United States.

Along with enslaving the prisoners of this war, they soon also took part in the slave trade that savagely kidnapped Africans from their homeland on the other side of the world. Once again this war was justified because of people's behavior and lifestyle was so radically different than their own. These Africans were considered savages and and again they were treated in savage ways. Of course the savagery of these "settlers" was again condoned. This slavery was seen as a way to promote their economy.

But how would they preserve the puritanical, legalistic, religious methods of behavioral modification techniques with the claim that they were seeking the separation of church and state? This proved to be quite difficult.

Once again they declared war against the "savagery" they claimed threatened their narrow views of an authoritarion-based lifestyle. This time it happened within the very walls they considered their place of worship by their clergymen, and against the women and children who were most vulnerable.

This war was against people they claimed were their own. However, in order to try to protect what they saw as their good name, this war became known as a war against a force rather than against those who were seen as savages and subhuman. It would have to be that way wouldn't it? I mean these people were considered a part of their own race! This was called the war against the outside evil force of witchcraft.

Some of the behavior modification techniques used against those were were seen as witches have heavily influenced other behavioral modification techniques throughout (what many refer to as) the civilized world.

In order to modify the behavior of people who were considered citizens of society and not easily dismissed, the war is convieniently declared against some outside force.

Rather than accept public responsibility, overcomers of what are considered afflictions of thought, perception, or behavior, are glorified and if the one whose behavior is seen as "abnormal" cannot be punished in a way that society will readily agree with, the force that dictates the person's behavior must be seen as either demonic, provoked by disease, or promoted by genetic defect that must be eliminated.

What is important to remember is that once a behavior can be described to the public as wrong instead of different, it can and does lead to the worst and most savage methods of the behavior modificationists. Those who modify behavior that is different in the justified name of "correcting what is wrong" go unpunished and their methods (once justified in this way) are not only accepted, they are promoted. These are the REAL wrongs that need to be researched, investigated, and fixed!

These methods of how different behaviors are treated didn't all originate in the U.S. and it won't help to just blame capitolism or the U.S. government for how the problems with abuse of power are handled in the U.S. and everywhere else.

People in the U.S. have come from all over the world and they have power here to do good things that they are not using. People everywhere (not just the U.S.) can change human rights in other places in many ways that they aren't yet. Furthermore, the people who are most capable of world domination and those who are the worst violaters of human rights no longer care about money. They have plenty. These people are NOT the U.S. government.

In order to create real change that promotes human rights for everyone we must consider what we are really fighting against and how we should best do that.


At 5:56 PM , Blogger abfh said...

Yes, and not just in the western world. The Soviet Union sent dissidents to mental institutions, and Asian communists often sent them to re-education camps. Psychology has been used for oppressive purposes since the early days of lunatic asylums, where all sorts of socially inconvenient people were locked away. It is indeed a human rights issue.

At 11:55 PM , Blogger Sharon said...

A very powerful post. Well said.

It is very dangerous when the differences of others or of those in your own community are seen as a problem to be eradicated or as an excuse for savage treatment. We do need to focus on human rights and be accepting of difference.

Isn't it Massachusetts that is infamous for witch trails? That same place allows the JRF to keep using electric shocks on autistic children. Disgraceful.

At 5:13 AM , Blogger Ed said...

ABFH and Sharon,

I do have a response for you. However, if you look at the bottom of my page you will see that I have received a prestigious award that is being presented by Mr. Harold Doherty. I feel that I must respond to this honor. I will respond your comments soon.

At 5:19 AM , Blogger Alyric said...

Hi Ed

small criticism, tiny in fact, but your view of witch hunts is really quite inaccurate. See:

Ronald Hutton’s, The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft.

Oh and sincere congratulations on your award from Mr Doherty:)

At 5:22 AM , Blogger Sharon said...

Ed, he (HD) just doesn't get it. He interprets everything on how it supports or criticises his preferred non-evidence based teaching methodology of Lovaas style ABA. Somehow I don't think that is what you were focussing on at all.

At 7:13 AM , Blogger Ed said...

Mr. Doherty,
Your award is being presented for how a subject was described that is different than what this post is refering to.
I am glad you are reading my blog post and hope you will continue to do so.

I hope to learn more about how psychology has been used to deal with dissidents in communists countries. I am planning to look more at the history of lunatic asylums in my future post on this subject. Thanks for pointing that out.

Yes, that was Massachusetts. Also, I appeciate you pointing out the nature of my post. I was speaking of behavior modification as to what the words alone actually mean rather than the name of a specific therepy.

I welcome your criticism no matter how large or small. I often learn from the comments you make as well as the post you write on your blog.

Please remember that the reason you pointing things out to me is helpful to me,is because we do things in very different ways. As much as I would like to acquire the knowlege you have attained, I doubt that even my vision would ever allow me to be so detail oriented as you.

The point you made about the witch hunts seems quite valid from the reference you made. Certainly those who practice witchcraft today would have a more valid view of their history and those trials.

Rather than speak of the practice of witchcraft as a valid expression, I instead only described how the church authorities at that time and place assaulted anyone they claimed might be envoking spirits weather they were or not. This was in order to describe how these puritanical church leaders exercised their power over those who they arbitrarily claimed were not following their rule.

I should have included that it was the arbitrary methods they used that I was refering to rather than the practice of witchcraft itself. Thats the best I understand that at this point. Does that address the inaccuracy you were refering to?

At 11:31 AM , Blogger Alyric said...

Hi Ed

Thanks for the clarification - especially the arbitrariness of it - I like that. For some unknown reason, post #2 didn't make it so I'll try again:

I dumped this on Harold's blog but 10:1 it won't see the light of day.

"Is it possible to talk to the host of Ed's Autism Page and suggest that using behavior modification to eliminate self aggressive behavior by an autistic child is not really oppressing the autistic child ?"

Sure! Remember Kit Weintraub the spokesperson for unlimited ABA? You have quoted her in the past. Here she is again:

“I have two kids with autism, one, a girl, twelve, who is extremely self-injurious. We have run a very high quality ABA program for her for years, but could never get rid of the self-injurious behaviors. Only on risperdal are they reduced, and we have seen her gain close to 100 lbs on the medication. We have had all sorts of behavioral experts come in and try to extinguish the behavior with positive behavioral interventions, unfortunately, they did not work.”

Reference: http://judgerotenbergcenter.blogspot.com/2006/04/comments-submitted-to-jrc-from-mother.html

At 1:33 PM , Blogger Alyric said...


Harold is feeling magnanimous I suspect since post 1 got an airing, but this one won't. He's an odd bloke. Here's post 2 and the final one - I have no interest in saying anything further. Sorry about this but Harold's censorship usually requires that posts get aired in some other place as well as his blog. If you feel that this is inappropriate, please delete.


Let's see whether this gets an airing or not - probably not judging by past experience.

Ed's post is as I'm sure you are aware, being a lawyer and all, is really about the kinds of thinking that get you pogroms, witchhunts and more than anything rationalisation of harmful acts. I'm surprised that you're surprised. Judge Rotenburg centre is ABA land as much as anything and take a look at what goes on there.

Really Harold, you ought to get out more. Behavior modification didn't get a bad rap based on hot air. There's a history there and Ed points out quite rightly the kind of thinking that led to that bad rap.

Behaviorists have been falling all over themselves in recent times assuring the population at large that ABA has evolved - learnt new things, has naturalistic ways of doing things, which in itself is rather interesting. It seems that in adopting the contents of Floortime and other methods - Sallows and Graupner is a very good example they've more or less abandoned any pretence to Science, which puts them on the same empirical footing as all the other interventions out there, that is, nil.

A la Weintraub - not a complicated point at all really - merely that ABA doesn't work all that well and you can see it didn't here. I wonder if it does work at all for self injury come to think of it. I should ask an expert, Michelle Dawson perhaps."

At 6:02 AM , Anonymous Amanda said...

yes at least Harold is reading your blog!
might need to pay better attention though.
(wondering if Harold's "award" has an cutsey little icons associated with it. :-) )


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