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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Behavioral Experiments

 

What comes to mind when you hear the term “mad scientist”? I’m reminded of stories from my youth such as that involving Victor Frankenstein or Dr. Henry Jekyll, in which unadvisable experimentation may lead to unintended consequences.

 

As well, I consider the term “mad” as relating to one who is completely unrestrained by reason and judgment, such as the Hatter from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. One who is mad in this regard doesn’t likely make use of a rational scientific process.

 

When considering that science is defined as knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws, especially as obtained and tested through scientific method, I think of the term “mad scientist” as representing an oxymoron.

 

As such, the analogue to a mad scientist is one who conducts experiments through the practice of self-disturbance—unhelpfully upsetting oneself with use of irrational beliefs and which causes unpleasant cognitive, emotive, bodily sensation, and behavioral outcomes.

 

Do you struggle to imagine what type of person would conduct oneself in such a manner? That’s easy, a fallible human being like you. I’ve done it, too. In fact, I suspect everyone you and I know has disturbed themselves. Nevertheless, you don’t have to continually behave in such a manner.

 

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) theory uses the ABC model to illustrate how when Activating events occur and people maintain irrational Beliefs about the events, these unhelpful assumptions – and not the actual occurrences – are what create unpleasant Consequences.

 

When working with clients who behave in a similar fashion as mad scientists – unrestrained by logic and reason when experimenting with unhelpful assumptions – I encourage use of rational thinking through the process of disputation. Admittedly, it can be uncomfortable to challenge one’s unproductive beliefs.

 

Therefore, as a matter of reinforcing the application of techniques designed for rational living, clients are invited to conduct homework experiments outside of their sessions. In this way, an experiment is merely a scientific procedure undertaken to make a discovery, test a hypothesis, or demonstrate a known fact.

 

Regarding this matter, page 151 of The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion encourages use of behavioral experiments when clients think they are incapable of accomplishing a task. Once irrational beliefs have been effectively disputed, homework experimentation is used to build upon a client’s knowledgebase.

 

Behavioral experiments, such as shame attacking, can be particularly useful at illustrating how unhelpful one’s irrational beliefs actually are. Make no mistake about it, this isn’t always a comfortable endeavor.

 

Unlike a person who is mad (completely unrestrained by reason and judgment), one who gets mad (angry) through use of unfavorable beliefs may not enjoy intentionally subjecting oneself to situations in which anger generally arises. Nevertheless, comfort and enjoyment aren’t components of behavioral experiments.

 

This is because as a REBT psychotherapist, I’m less concerned with helping people feel better and I’m more focused on helping people get better. Thus, I invite my clients to welcome the unintended consequences which may arise when conducting advisable experimentation.

 

Are you interested in learning how to transition from conducting unfortunate experiments, which aren’t in accordance with logic and reason, to practicing rational experimentation with a goal of helping you get better? If so, I look forward to hearing from you.

 

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

 

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

 

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

 

 

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


 

References:

 

Biondi, D. (2024, February 26). Gothic [Image]. Playground. Retrieved from https://playground.com/post/gothic-frightening-scene-dr-frankenstein-about-to-activat-clt36ueml0nuxs601vehy8fx5

Dryden, W. and Neenan, M. (2003). The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion. Albert Ellis Institute. ISBN 0-917476-26-3. Library of Congress Control Number: 20031044378

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/disclaimer

Hollings, D. (2023, September 8). Fair use. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/fair-use

Hollings, D. (2024, May 11). Fallible human being. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/fallible-human-being

Hollings, D. (2024, April 2). Four major irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/four-major-irrational-beliefs

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/get-better

Hollings, D. (2024, April 13). Goals. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/goals

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/

Hollings, D. (2024, April 18). Homework. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/homework

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/life-coaching

Hollings, D. (2023, January 8). Logic and reason. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/logic-and-reason

Hollings, D. (2024, April 22). On disputing. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/on-disputing

Hollings, D. (2023, April 24). On truth. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/on-truth

Hollings, D. (2024, May 5). Psychotherapist. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/psychotherapist

Hollings, D. (2022, March 24). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy-rebt

Hollings, D. (2024, May 15). Rational living. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rational-living

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/self-disturbance

Hollings, D. (2024, April 21). Sensation. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/sensation

Hollings, D. (2022, September 8). Shame attacking. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/shame-attacking

Hollings, D. (2022, November 9). The ABC model. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-abc-model

Hollings, D. (2023, August 6). The science. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-science

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice%27s_Adventures_in_Wonderland

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Frankenstein. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankenstein

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strange_Case_of_Dr_Jekyll_and_Mr_Hyde

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