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Disruption

 

Techniques Conditioning > Disruption

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

When a subject is doing something that you do not want them to do, and particularly if this is habitual, you can stop this pattern by disrupting it, regularly breaking into the sequence of activities until it stops happening. Note that you may have to disrupt a habit on a number of occasions before you prevent it happening.

Disruption is particularly effective for breaking up complex unwanted patterns that continue over a period of time. The earlier in the sequence you interrupt the better, though any disruption will help.

Example

When a dog barks at an unwanted time, the owner keeps doing something unusual, such as suddenly sitting down, coughing, singing loudly and so on. Each disruption is enough to make the dog pause for a moment.

A child gets into a habit of shouting then crying then running to their room when they are angry. When they shout, the parent seems to start crying. The child stops in puzzlement, but then runs to their room and finds it locked (the parent predicted the pattern and was ahead of the game). Confused, they forget to be angry.

Discussion

Habits are conditioned sequences of actions that follow a repeating pattern. They can be quite complex and continue over a period of time. A key aspect of such sequences is that they are largely unconsciously driven, with the subject acting almost automatically, or at least with automatic motivation driving them.

When the sequence of actions is disrupted, the unconscious activity is broken into, forcing the subject to consciously think. Their consequent conscious thought may lead them to realize that the action is counter-productive. Disrupting the unconscious pattern also effectively 'reprograms' the automated thinking by breaking it into pieces that do not make sense as individual actions.

See also

Distraction

 

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