Experimental Foundations of Behavioral Medicines: Conditioning Approaches

Experimental Foundations of Behavioral Medicines: Conditioning Approaches

Experimental Foundations of Behavioral Medicines: Conditioning Approaches

Experimental Foundations of Behavioral Medicines: Conditioning Approaches

Synopsis

A new attempt to acknowledge and rekindle interest in the experimental foundation of behavioral medicine, this volume focuses on the relevance of conditioning processes in the development of clinically relevant intervention strategies. It provides illustrations of the basic conditioning effects in the regulation of physiological responses, the role of conditioning in selected disease models, the precise application of conditioning principles, and speculative analyses of the potential of conditioning in the modification of clinically relevant responses. Issues involved in teaching both the fundamentals and the applied components of behavioral medicine are addressed.

Excerpt

As an interdisciplinary field of study, behavioral medicine has made a good case for itself in the clinic as well as the research laboratory. It may no longer be sufficient to document the role of behavioral factors in the development, progression, or recovery from disease or to illustrate the efficacy of behavioral strategies in the amelioration of symptoms of a wide range of physical disorders. We have, perhaps, reached the point at which to make another point, namely that the sophistication that characterizes the experimental analysis of behavioral processes can be used to achieve a more detailed and comprehensive understanding of the biobehavioral mechanisms underlying both the development and reduction of symptoms of disease.

From an experimental point of view, the apparently relevant strategies and interventions of the behaviorally oriented clinician are not new. By and large, they reflect and extrapolate from classic concerns of behavioral scientists. Primary among these is the issue of conditioning and learning. It would, of course, be an oversimplification to point to "learning" as the experimental foundation of behavioral medicine. Learning is, however, a fundamental process of adaptation to the physical and social environment and, implicitly or explicitly, extensions of classical and operant conditioning principles have provided the basis for many of the behavioral strategies of intervention designed to modify behavioral and physiological responses in clinically relevant ways. the principles and techniques are not new; what is new -- and what we can credit to the behavioral medicine movement -- is the application of these principles and techniques to the prevention of illness and to the alleviation of symptoms of disease.

From an experimental point of view, however, it sometimes appears that clinical practioners, in applying behavioral modification techniques, have proceeded at a rate that far exceeds the experimental data upon which such interventions should . . .

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