Robert C. Mellon Laboratory of Experimental and Applied Behavior Analysis, Department of Psychology, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Athens, Hellenic Republic
ABSTRACT In the emergence of radical behaviorism, the useful practice of challenging explanations grounded in tradition and faith by the methods of natural science was extended to our understanding of rationality itself, and the long-established view of thought and related acts as creations of an autonomous initiating agent was found to be as groundless and impotent as theistic accounts of the provenance of other physical events. This account of reasoning as a process of long-term interaction between the organism and the events that precede and follow upon its actions (many of them unobservable by others) has much to offer to each and everyhuman being, yet the number of persons whose behavior is usefully affected by this approach is at present exceedingly small. Moreover, the individuals least likely to receive effective exposureto a natural science interpretation of such “cognitive” phenomena are, arguably, those who need it most: those who are troubled and limited by their own problematic patterns of thinking and perceiving. The provision of a useful account of “psychopathology” and its relation to aversive control could greatly advance the dissemination of the behavioral position in general, as these phenomena are alluringly enigmatic, universal, problematic, and less likely than other forms of behavior to be attributed to autonomous agency – constituting the thin edge of a wedge that would open the balance of the individual ’s explanatory repertoire to scientific scrutiny.