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Behaviorism and Anxiety Disorder Treatment Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jan 1st, 2021

Behaviorism Theory

Since the invention of psychology, numerous theories have been advanced that attempt to explain, be it human behavior, personality types, processes of brain perception, cognition, and psychoanalysis, among others. Most notable of these theories are structuralism, functionalism, Gestalt psychology, multiple personality disorder theory, psychoanalysis, behaviorism, reinforcement, cognitive neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, and cultural psychology (Devarajan, 2006). Among all these forms of theories, the most influential theory, in my own opinion, is the theory of behaviorism developed during the 20th century, which was refined by the American psychologist John Watson.

Behaviorism is the branch of psychology that focuses on observation of human behavior from an objective perspective, thereby providing a form of common ground that other psychological theories could base their scientific concept (Devarajan, 2006).

Motivated by the James Angell earlier work on the field of behavior and the renown Pavlov experiments, Watson advocated the first theory at the time in the field of psychology that shifted the focus from studying what people experienced to what they did; what he terms as behavior (Devarajan, 2006). In his own way, Watson was attempting to discover another approach of gaining insight into the human mind and as well as understanding it without applying the current theories that had proved ineffective. The principle behind the behaviorism theory is accurately captured in the Pavlov experiments and revolves around the two concepts of stimulus and response (Devarajan, 2006).

In other words, what Watson advanced through this theory, in a nutshell, is that human behavior is a factor of stimulus that emanated from the mental processes which can therefore be studied by just observing the response alone, which is the behavior in this case (Devarajan, 2006).

The behaviorism theory was later advanced to another level from where Watson left by another renowned psychologist, B.F Skinner. Skinner was responsible for the discovery of another element in the equation of human behavior science, which is referred to as Reinforcement (Devarajan, 2006). This element in the context of behaviorism theory states that “the consequences of a behavior determine whether it will be more or less likely to occur again” (Devarajan, 2006).

It was a conclusion that was arrived after years of many experiments on animal behaviors that were also found to be true to humans, which formed his foundation for his work titled “The Behavior of Organism” (Devarajan, 2006). Today the behaviorism theory is one of the most developed and reliable theories of psychology because of its methodology and approach that is evident in human behavior. Indeed the behaviorism theory is one of the true branches that can be described to represent the science of psychology since it focuses on observation of human behavior to understand the mind, which is actually the definition of psychology.

Anxiety Disorder Treatment

Many forms of psychological disorder are exhibited by the presence of delusions, paranoia, hallucinations, and sometimes bizarre speech in affected patients depending on the specific type of the disorder (Devarajan, 2006). Like many other mental disorders, there is no laboratory diagnosis for psychological disorders, which means that they can only be diagnosed through patient behavioral observation as well as a review of patient history and documentation of their experiences (Devarajan, 2006).

The different types of mental disorders classifications are categorized based on the DSM IV-TR framework; it is an abbreviation that stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision, a manual that is developed by the American Psychiatrist Association (APA) (AmericanPsychiatricAssociation.com, 2009).

It consists of the most recent guidelines for classifying mental disorders; DSM IV-TR is, therefore, a guideline that is mostly referred by psychologists to categorize the various forms of mental disorders. Hence the diagnostic process of severe anxiety disorder among suspected cases should be done according to DSM IV-TR guidelines, which will involve specific key observations. The focus for diagnosing severe anxiety disorder according to the recent DSM IV-TR guidelines has shifted from somatic symptoms to psychic components that must fit in any of the following categories; poor coping strategies, distorted cognition, and physiologic arousal (MedicalNews.com, 2010).

One of the conditions that must be certified by the patient before the diagnosis of the disorder is the presence of characteristic symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) that persist for more than six weeks and which also negatively affects the patient ‘ss work or school responsibilities (MedicalNews.com, 2010).

The psychologist will then consult the patient history to determine the seriousness of the condition, which is categorized in any of the following groups; acute, intermittent, or brief (MedicalNews.com, 2010). Treatment of GAD is usually achieved through a combination or any of the following methods; psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, and family therapy (MedicalNews.com, 2010).

Pharmacotherapy involves the use of medication such as antidepressants and buspirone, which are the most commonly used medications for the treatment of the GAD. Psychotherapy and family therapy involves sessions with a qualified specialist and is recommended where family or personality type is determined to be a causal factor of the condition.


AmericanPsychiatricAssociation.com (2009). DSM-IV-TR. Web.

Devarajan, S. (2006). DSM IV-TR: Anxiety Disorders and other Psychotic Disorders. Web.

MedicalNews.com. (2010). Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Web.

Schacter, Gilbert. (2009). Psychology: The Evolution of a Science. Washington, DC: Worth Publishers.

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