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June 1971

Depression: A Behavioral Formulation

Author Affiliations

Washington, DC
From the Laboratory of Human Behavior, Division of Special Mental Research, St. Elizabeth's Hospital (Dr. Liberman) and the Vestermark Division of Training, National Center for Mental Health Services (Dr. Raskin), Washington, DC. Dr. Liberman is currently at the Laboratory for Behavior Modification, Center for the Study of Behavioral Disorders, Department of Mental Hygiene, Camarillo State Hospital, Camarillo, Calif.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1971;24(6):515-523. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1971.01750120031006

A behavioral formulation of depression emphasizes objective observation of the individual's behavior (including verbal self-reports and nonverbal expressions of feeling states) in relation to the preceding and consequential events in the interpersonal environment. Much of the inferential and theoretical speculations about depressive phenomena by psychoanalysts stem from observations of changes in a depressed person's social field and in this way are consistent with a behavioral emphasis on contingencies of reinforcement. Procedures derived from behavioral learning principles have recently been used to produce therapeutic change in depressed patients.