BF Skinner Help

Whatever happened to plain psychology? It used to be so simple. It was based on observation of behavior, especially in terms of stimulus and response. Ring the bell and the dog salivates (that was Pavlov, not Skinner).

Behavioral psychology really didn't have that much wrong with it; it was simple. Prevent the bad behavior from happening and reward good behavior. But we can't say bad behavior anymore, because it might offend someone.It used to be that reprimands and discipline for children meant that children were better behaved. In the animal kingdom, mothers discipline their young all the time. It's a matter of survival.

Humans have gone from disciplining to abusing or becoming permissive, depending on who is the judge. What we have now is a horde of youngsters with terrible manners, rotten posture, no common sense and wired to the hilt. ADD, ADHD, borderline autism, etc. are the keywords that describe behaviors now.

Don't get me wrong; I've seen my share of children and people with bonafide mental disorders. In my day, we had (as far as I can remember) kids that were mentally retarded or had other learning disabilities in school. They went on a little yellow bus somewhere and we didn't engage with them much. Then there were the bullies, the baddies and the sissies and the tattletales. Of course, we all worked our way around those guys. If someone hit us in school, we would go home and tell our parents and our moms were on the phone to the bad kid's parents in a New York minute.

People handled problems themselves. They talked to each other. If something got bad enough at school, the kid causing it would get sent to the principal's office. We were all scared to death of the principal.

I don't even remember any of the principals; we never saw them. The principal was like God, sitting in some throne in an unseen place. Even as a middle aged Boomer, I still get the willies going to ANY principal's office. I get nervous in school offices.

And I'm a teacher! The office was forbidden territory in my school days. We respected the teachers.While we played outside and managed to survive recess with all the jungle gyms and exercise equipment that apparently kills kids now, we had a "monitor." This might be a teacher or a teacher's helper, but still it was an authority figure. At recess we all stayed away from the boys with taps on their shoes.

Those were the bad kids and we knew it. They were the troublemakers. They were tough.

They wore leather jackets to school. And I am speaking of third grade! The kids with taps hung out together, sneered at the rest of us and killed insects with a magnifying glass and the sun. They liked to burn stuff, especially if it was alive. But they limited their murderous antics to insects and leaves. We let the playground monitors handle those guys while we played kickball and tetherball and dodgeball and climbed on the bars.

It seems we were very active, always moving around, and there weren't many fat kids in school.The best days in school were Wednesdays and Fridays. Wednesday was hot dog day. We didn't have to dig into our lunch boxes to trade with another kid who had something we wanted. We could buy hot dogs, with or without mustard. Friday was ice cream day.

A guy would come with his cart and we would buy our favorite ice cream treats. I liked the Big Sticks the best.We would guzzle water from the water fountain that probably had lead in the pipes.

In general, we seemed pretty normal and healthy and life was simple. I don't recall any of us getting salmonella or some horrible disease from drinking water from the fountain. Either I'm dreadfully out of touch or most of us lived through it. Judging from my peers that are still alive, most of us didn't die from anything we did in school.

It seems that now, every discipline problem is a mental illness. An ill-equipped parent has a problem dealing with an unruly kid and is afraid to discipline the kid because just about any discipline is considered child abuse. A few years ago when I was having a garage sale in the States, I saw a mother "disciplining" her toddler girl by explaining why she couldn't do such and such.the mother used all of the right "I" statements and stated clearly how the baby's behavior made her FEEL, and she went on with this amusing discourse while chasing the child all over the place. The little girl was no older than two.

I wondered if this mother had any friends. And I wondered why she didn't have the kid in one of those fancy backpack things. Most likely because the little girl would clobber her for any kind of attempted restraint that would stifle her creative expression and scar her for life.Sadly, the revolutionary days of behavioral psychology are over. Behavioral psychology only applies to rats now.

Humans have apparently transcended B.F. Skinner's work by turning everything into a mental illness. That way, no discipline is required. Only medication and talk therapy.

From what I see on the airwaves and internet, all three hundred million people in the U.S. are engaged in talk therapy, but who is listening? That's something I couldn't figure out. But then, I went to school in the primitive days. Maybe I can find a Gen Y with no known mental disorder to explain it to me. The problem with that idea is that I can't understand a word they say for all the tongue piercings that make clanking noises and lisps when they talk.

They get very impatient when someone can't understand them the first time. As far as I can tell, nobody is really saying much of anything worthwhile, it's a lot of complaining and whining and buzzwords, all basically saying, "I'm so special.".Don't think it isn't noticed elsewhere; South of the Border here, school is still simple, if very expensive. Kids wear uniforms, they can't attach metal to their faces or color their hair or any of that completely necessary survival behavior until they finish school.

People here are generally "uneducated." That means they can talk about anything, because they have been busy living and not thinking. Mind you, they are rarely right about stuff, but they at least try! Perhaps I ask the wrong questions, which is entirely possible. One good example is, I once asked someone what the time was.

He looked at his cell phone and told me. They don't wear watches here. Living here feels like it was when I was growing up; and it's refreshing.


Triana Elan is a freelance writer and an American expat living in Mexico. She maintains a blog about her discoveries at: Source:


By: Triana Elan

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