The Two Models of Conditioning of Neurotic Anxiety

  • Joseph Wolpe


Behavioral scientists who have been nurtured in the conditioning tradition have naturally thought of unadaptive (neurotic) fears as based, like adaptive fears, on classical conditioning. In recent years a zealous coterie of mentalistic psychologists (e.g. Beck, 1976; Ellis, 1962) have vigorously articulated an opposed position — that neurotic fears are always due to the belief that there is danger where in fact there is none. However, many behavioral clinicians (e.g. Wolpe, 1958, 1983; Rachman, 1977) have recognized that not all clinical fears are classically conditioned — that some do depend on unfounded beliefs that are either verbally communicated or inferred from the fearful behavior of others. An early formal demonstration of this dichotomy was actually provided by Bridger & Mandell (1964) and then ignored for two decades.


Conditioned Stimulus Classical Conditioning Cognitive Therapy Reciprocal Inhibition Systematic Desensitization 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Wolpe
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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