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Discuss the ethics of the use of behavior modification on somoneone who has a...

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natralee | Student, Graduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted February 7, 2013 at 8:45 PM via web

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Discuss the ethics of the use of behavior modification on somoneone who has a personaliy disorder

Specifically: Does the use of learning principles in behavior modification with someone who exhibits antisocial personality disorder work?

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 8, 2013 at 5:10 PM (Answer #1)

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A research conducted by Matusiewicz, Hopwood, Banducci and Lejuez (2010) concedes that the use of corrective behavioral therapy is the main framework upon which most therapists rely to effectively treat and enhance the functionality of patients with personality disorders. There is no question that the use of BT is useful, however, the research suggests that there is still ample space to further explore the subsequent manifestations of one same personality disorder when treated by the same therapeutic intervention. They specifically stated that

there is clear need for further the development and evaluation to provide specific and more unambiguous treatment recommendations, with particular relevance for understudied PDs.

To illustrate an example of how BT, or CBT is beneficial, the researchers cited the use of Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) on borderline, para-suicidal, and bipolar disorder. During dialectical behavior, as the name implies, there is a huge need for discourse between the patient and the clinician. Strong emphasis is placed on validating, supporting and strengthening the otherwise extremely low self-esteem of the client. Additionally, DBT focuses on

  •  mindfulness
  • interpersonal effectiveness
  • emotion regulation and
  • distress tolerance

If we consider that these are behaviors that are learned and acquired from social communication (as well as the way in which we interact with the immediate environment), it is no wonder why behavioral therapy is a good conduit to de-program clients from old, repetitive, and self-injuring behaviors. Moreover, any kind of behavioral therapy is geared towards building a new mindset; as long as the client shifts from the current state of mind, then chances are that the client will be more receptive to make further changes.

Most personality disorders stem from a poor handling of childhood needs such as safety, belonging, self-esteem, and awareness, among other things. As a result, the individual overcompensates the fulfillment of other needs, while continuing to abandon the needs that have already been forfeited. The deficit of needs versus wants grows and the patient's behavior becomes pathological as a result. Behavioral Therapy attempts to fill the gaps that form during a bad childhood, and after traumatic events. By experiencing the actual fulfillment of a major and long-neglected need, the patient will cease the tendency to overcompensate in other ways and change in behavior will finally occur. This is why the therapy works; however, like the research shows, there is a need to continue to explore more instances of how BT is used in lesser-known conditions.

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