September 1985

Conditioning and the Origins of Psychopathology

Author Affiliations

Center for Stress and Anxiety Disorders Department of Psychology State University of New York at Albany 1400 Washington Ave Albany, NY 12222

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1985;42(9):928. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1985.01790320100020

To the Editor.—  As one of the facetious straw men of Stoller and Herdt1 who is struggling to stand up again, let me be the first to congratulate the authors for their brilliant observations and challenging conclusions regarding the inability of "conditioning" to account for the acquisition of sexual orientation in the Sambia tribe. While one could quibble with some of their interpretations, there is little question that their data enrich all of us and contribute substantially to our search for greater understanding of human psychopathology.In fact, as the authors have pointed out, behaviorists long ago gave us straightforward classical conditioning as the primary etiological factor in psychopathology whether it be paraphilias, homosexuality, or anxiety disorders such as phobias. This is not to say, however, that conditioning does not occur or play a role in the development of emotional disorders. One need go no further than the oncology

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