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Centerpointe Research

Substance Abuse

Why People Do What They Do

reward-punishment Do you know why people do what they do?  Do you think psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors know this automatically when they get information about a new client’s problem?  Sometimes it takes at least just a little more knowledge about a situation than what has been given to start with to understand why something is happening.  I was taught to do behavior modification therapy and although the process I used was by the book; it had to be tweaked to work right.  The necessary rewards and punishments had to motivate the client to do or not do a certain specified behavior or behaviors.  For example, I have a family member for whom chocolate ice cream wouldn’t work, but for time for this family member to take a nice long bath would.

Marestail shows moisture at high altitude, sig...

Marestail shows moisture at high altitude, signalling the later arrival of wet weather. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This has been a problem not only when doing behavior therapy but also when doing other kinds of therapy.  Sometimes it’s not what you think that is why people do what they do.  I knew of a farmer who drank when the weather forecast was bad.  I figured he was upset that he couldn’t get into the field the next day and was worried that he wouldn’t get his crops in or out.  No, I found out later that he knew he could drink that evening because he wouldn’t be operating farm equipment the next day.

Smoking cessation

Smoking cessation (Photo credits: www.mysafetysign.com)

I was using a very successful method of hypnosis for helping a person to quit smoking and I was getting nowhere.  The person had very serious health problems caused by smoking.  When I did a through follow-up interview, I found out that the only thing that person did for his or her own enjoyment was smoking.  He or she constantly did for others 24/7.  The amount of such work that he or she did was mind boggling.  He or she was at the beck and call of family and friends.

 

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