Stimulus generali-zation may occur in a little boy with an abusive mother. The boy learns that whenever Mom is angry or raises her voice, that the best way to avoid punishment is to pacify and please her. This is an appropriate, survival-based response for the child. However, as an adult whenever there is a potential conflict with another person (stimulus generalization) the man is conditioned to pacify and please. This conditioned response no longer serves, yet he is unconsciously compelled to behave this way, preventing him from expressing himself and having his needs met in business and personal relationships. The repetition-compulsion in this case may appear as an attraction to those that will abuse him, with a conditioned response to pacify and please them.
When conditioning and stimulus generalization occur in response to words we call this semantic conditioning and semantic generalization. When lemon juice contacts the tongue, the body secretes saliva; however, if the sound of the word "lemon" alone results in salivation, then we have semantic conditioning. If the sound of the word "grapefruit" produced salivation, then we have semantic generalization. This explains why the patient's arm strength will change in response to the practitioner's words.
Since Pavlov's dog, conditioned reflexes that have been studied in man include:
- Sweat secretion
- Contraction and relaxation of smooth muscle in the walls of arteries
- Blink reflex
- Contraction and dilation of the pupil of the eye
MORE ON NET:
THE DEVELOPMENT OF NET
REPETITION COMPULSION AND STIMULUS GENERALIZATION
HOW DOES NET CORRECT EMOTIONAL IMBALANCES?