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Conditioning, an Example

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Eric "Herbie" Watson, Aug 10, 2013.

  1. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    All of us make "conclusions" or "decisions" based on the experiences
    we have in life. These conclusions can strongly affect how we respond to
    later experiences. Many of our beliefs were formed by one intensely
    significant experience in the past; others by a series of less intense
    For example, Sal had an early experience that made him conclude he
    couldn't learn. When Sal was three, he grabbed a puzzle off the shelf and
    tried to put it together. The puzzle was for six-year-olds, but Sal didn't know
    that. He didn't even fully comprehend that six-year-olds could do things that
    three-year-olds couldn't. He was only aware that he tried and tried, but
    couldn't get the puzzle together.
    Sal's parents were in the room observing his growing frustration. They
    were disconcerted by Sal's whimpering about the puzzle and didn't know
    what to do. Finally his father said, out of his own frustration, "Oh, just put
    that puzzle away. You can't seem to learn anything anyway!" The next time
    Sal tried to put a puzzle together and got stuck, he remembered the last time
    he had tried and failed, and what his father had said. "He's right. I can't
    learn," he thought. He put the puzzle away without trying very hard, and
    turned to something "easy" to do.
    Later young Sal was trying to take apart an old clock with a
    screwdriver. He liked unscrewing things. Sometimes it takes a little figuring
    out to determine what to unscrew in what order, and Sal soon encountered
    something he couldn't immediately see how to take apart. Thinking back
    to his earlier experiences of failure, Sal didn't try very hard. He quickly put
    the clock down, thinking this was more evidence that he couldn't do things.
    Over the years, Sal had many more experiences supporting his
    conclusion that he couldn't do things. Based on Sal's early experience, he
    was prepared to think of later events in the same way—strengthening his
    early conclusion about his limitations.

    Steve Andreas- The heart of the mind. p.32
  2. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Seems like Sal's father (a superego figure) provided negative reinforcement that became a programmed response throughout Sal's lifetime. Makes you wonder whether Sal could even remember something like that from back when he was 3 y.o. ? Sounds like negative reinforcement could become an unconscious response that would surface again and again throughout your lifetime, even if you weren't consciously aware of it. One of the only clear memories I have from when I was that young was when there was a fire in an apartment across the road from our flat in San Francisco. I remember being afraid of fire. My father had duly instructed me about the danger of playing with matches. But I do remember at the time of the fire across the street that my father told me my mother was going to burn the place down with her smoking. That stuck with me and made me remember the incident, even though I must have been 3 or 4 y.o. However, what I remember today is fear of fire associated with my mother (by my father), not a specific negative conditioned response. More like a pervasive vague fear of the external world as a dangerous place. Of course, I did get a lot of positive feedback from both mom and dad for learning to read and write on my own before school and being precocious and good at solving puzzles, especially mechanical ones. I wonder how Steve Andreas dragged up that memory lodged back in a 3 year olds' mind?
  3. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    I too remember a few things from the younger years BruceMC,
    like the time I was embarrassed about seeing a naked woman on TV.
    My mom said boy she's going to get you.
    That's all it took for me to be in fear of girls till I was like 17.
    I was always afraid id do something wrong and make a girl at school mad at me,
    makes ya wonder about how stuff sticks with us subconsciously
    Its also cool that we get to understand ourselves a bit better by looking back
    Steve Andreas has been in the Psychology world for close to 50 years now
    he Edited and helped Write all the early nlp books by Richard bandler and John grinder
    These guys modeled Fritz pearls - a Famous psychological therapist who coined
    the term gestalt therapy that he developed with his wife.
    Virgina Satir- World famous Family therapist- psychotherapist
    and Milton Erickson- world Famous psychotherapist and Hypnotist
  4. Lori

    Lori Well known member

    Wow, so sad about Sal.

    There is no reason to wonder why Dr. Sarno says 1/3 of our "overflowing beaker" is related to childhood events.

    Also reminds us of the power of words (spoken or implied)!!
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  5. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    That was observed earlier, Lori, a long time before Dr Sarno:

    "My heart leaps up when I behold A rainbow in the sky: So was it when my life began; So is it now I am a man; So be it when I shall grow old, Or let me die!

    The Child is father of the Man; I could wish my days to be Bound each to each by natural piety."

    William Wordsworth, 1802

    Romantic poets like Wordsworth, Blake and Coleridge anticipated psychoanalysis and depth therapy.
  6. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    That's some great poetry you have there BruceMC.
    I've learned so much through Masters of poetry or philosophy over the years.
    Also, I can see as Lori said - The beaker was overflown.
    I wanted you guys to see p.33 of Andreas book .
    The other end of conditioning- The Good kind of conditioning.

    Positive Conditioning-

    In contrast, Glen had an early experience that colored his entire future,
    in a much more positive way. When Glen was four, his family moved from
    the desert to Ohio, where there were lots of trees. Glen wasn't accustomed
    to all the trees and was eager to climb them. After selecting his first climbing
    prospect, Glen moved up from one branch to the next, excited about this
    new activity.

    When he was quite high up, Glen looked around, pleased, and
    decided it was time to get down. That was the first time it had occurred
    to Glen to look down, and he became terrified. He clutched the branch, and
    screamed to his mother who was around the corner of the house. "Help,
    I can't get down!"

    Glen's mother came running, and was a bit nervous herself at seeing
    Glen so high in the tree. However, she calmly said, "Glen, you're holding
    on tightly, and that's good. Now you managed to get up that tree, and if
    you can find a way to get up, you can find a way to get down. Can you
    reach down with one foot and feel for a branch that feels solid, and will
    hold your weight?"

    Glen felt calmer just hearing his mother's voice. He had
    a sense of competence about himself as he realized that he had climbed all
    that way up by himself. He settled down to the job of finding his way down,
    slowly and carefully, until he was safely at the bottom. Although he was
    more careful about climbing trees in the future, Glen came down with a
    sense of competence—that he could figure something out on his own.

    This experience stuck with Glen. When he started
    school and encountered tasks that were difficult,
    Glen would think about climbing the tree,
    realize that he could figure things out, and kept trying and asking
    questions until he did figure them out He kept working at things until he
    succeeded, sometimes long after his friends had given up. Each success
    became further confirmation that Glen could learn and succeed at things.
  7. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Moral of the story, Eric? Don't climb up anything you can't climb back down in reverse. Another one: If you go into a dense wood during the daylight hours, always trail a string behind you so you can find your way back out when it gets dark. Also, be sure to carry a light!
  8. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    When I was a young teenager, my father used to put me down in front of his drinking buddies who
    came to our apartment. I never knew why, but it left me feeling like a dunce and a loser.

    I must have repressed that feeling of inferiority along with other things from home in those years,
    which made me strive to be an achiever. I did it... was the first in the family to go to and graduate college,
    became a reporter on the Chicago Tribune, wrote 40 books. I achieved a lot, and still at,
    but TMS made me pay the prince for repressing that and other emotions. I read Sarno, journaled, believed
    in TMS healing, and the back pain went away.

    Now I feel like I am really an achiever.
    NolaGal and Eric "Herbie" Watson like this.
  9. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    That's it Walt you got the moral of the story
    there's good conditioning and bad conditioning
    we all go through it- its also called imprinting
    Then if you go in and change the conditioning
    rather for the good or bad its called re-imprinting.
    Even though we might think something isn't going to have a great outcome
    It could very well be the thing that sets us up to have an exceptional future
    I really didn't want anyone to think conditioning is just bad.
    I was just making a point to let those that might be new
    to knowing what conditioning is- that's all BruceMC
    And Walt where would I be without you buddy
    You really got a good eye for the elements of thinking psychological-Awesome
  10. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Boy, does that sound familiar, Walt. I too remember being a sort of 'dancing bear' that my father went out of his way to put down in front of his drinking buddies from work. However, I think that Dr Sarno speculates that this heritage of inferiority, passed on from generation to generation, may be one of the underlying motifs of Western civilization itself. But achieving a lot to compensate for an inner sense of unworthiness undercuts the value of all those achievements accomplished for the wrong reasons. What is that title that T.S. Eliot gives one of his poems? "The Hollow Men"? Recovery from TMS, as you suggest, seems to be one way of working your way out of that psycho-historical impasse.

    I remember my late aunt replying to my question, "Why does my father need to put me down?, with the pithy one liner: "You're so intelligent, you must intimidate him". And so it goes, generation after generation, century after century, all the way back to the Homeric heroes on the plains of Ilium.

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