Behavior and Social Issues

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 185–191 | Cite as

Applied Behavior Analysis: Niche Therapy Par Excellance

  • Richard F. RakosEmail author


Wong (2006), and Wyatt and Midkiff (2006) focus on the social and economic factors that have promoted biological psychiatry and marginalized behaviorism in the contemporary treatment of problems in living and “mental illness.” I suggest an additional, perhaps even more central, reason is that biological psychiatry promises to increase autonomy while behaviorism is seen to constain freedom. If, as I also suggest, the human belief in agency and desire for autonomy are products of evolution, then biological psychiatry, unlike behaviorism, is agreeable with an important facet of human nature. From this perspective, several strategies that might enhance the social acceptance of behaviorism are briefly offered.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., rev.). Washington, DC: AuthorGoogle Scholar
  2. Caplan, P.J. (1995). They say you’re crazy: How the world’s most powerful psychiatrists decide who’s normal. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  3. Combs, D.R., Penn, D.L., Spaulding, W.D., Adams, S.D., Roberts, D.L., & Iyer, S.N. Graduate training in cognitive-behavioral therapy for psychosis: The approaches of three generations of clinical researchers. The Behavior Therapist, 29, 12–16.Google Scholar
  4. Dennett, D.C. (2003). Freedom evolves. New York: Viking.Google Scholar
  5. Foxx, R.M., Bremer, B.A., Schutz, C., Valdez, J., & Johndrow, C. (1996). Increasing treatment acceptability through video. Behavioral Interventions, 11, 171–180.<171::AID-BRT159>3.0.CO;2-WCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Huxley, A. (1932). Brave new world, a novel. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  7. Kazdin, A.E. and Krouse, R. (1983). The impact of variations in treatment rationales on expectancies for therapeutic change. Behavior Therapy, 14, 657–671. Scholar
  8. Krasner, L, and Ullmann, L. P. (Eds.) (1965). Research in behavior modification. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  9. Kuhlmann, H. (2005). Living Walden Two: B.F. Skinner’s behaviorist utopia and experimental communities. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  10. Laraway, S., Snycerski,S., Michael, J., & Poling, A. (2003). Motivating operations and terms to describe them: Some further refinements. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 36, 407–414. Scholar
  11. O’Brien, S. & Karsh, K.G. (1990). Treatment acceptability: Consumer, therapist, and society. In A.C. Repp & N.N. Singh (Eds.). Perspectives on the use of nonaversive and aversive interventions for persons with developmental disabilities (pp. 503–516). Sycamore, IL: Sycamore.Google Scholar
  12. O’Leary, K.D. (1984). The image of behavior therapy: It is time to take a stand. Behavior Therapy, 15, 219–233. Scholar
  13. Paul, G. & Lentz, R. (1977). Psychosocial treatment of chronic mental patients: Milieu versus social-learning programs. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Rakos, R.F. (2004). The belief in free will as a biological adaptation: Thinking inside and outside of the behavior analytic box. European Journal of Behavior Analysis, 5, 95–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Rakos, R.F. (2005, May). Is the “sense of autonomy” a primary reinforcer for humans? Paper presented at the annual convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
  16. Rakos, R.F. (2006). On Books: Review of “Living Walden Two: B.F. Skinner’s Behaviorist Utopia and Experimental Communities.” The Behavior Analyst, 29, 153–157.Google Scholar
  17. Rassool, G.H. (Ed.). Substance use and misuse: Nature, context, and clinical interventions. London: Blackwell Science.Google Scholar
  18. Reppucci, N.D. & Saunders, J.T. (1974). Social psychology of behavior modification: Problems of implementation in the natural environment. American Psychologist, 29, 649–660. Scholar
  19. Skinner, B.F. (1948). Walden Two. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  20. Skinner, B.F. (1971). Beyond freedom and dignity. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  21. Tharp, R.G. & Wetzel, R.J. (1969). Behavior modification in the natural environment. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  22. Wong, S.E. (2006). Behavior analysis of psychotic disorders: Scientific dead end or casualty of the mental health political economy? Behavior and Social Issues, 15, 152–177. Scholar
  23. Woolfolk, A.E., Woolfolk, R.L., & Wilson, G.T. (1977). A rose by any other name…: Labeling bias and attitudes toward behavior modification. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 45, 184–191. Scholar
  24. Wyatt, W. J., & Midkiff, D. M. (2006). Biological psychiatry: A practice in search of a science. Behavior and Social Issues, 15, 132–151. Scholar

Copyright information

© Richard F. Rakos 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCleveland State UniversityClevelandUSA

Personalised recommendations