Freud and Skinner interpretation of anxiety

Conflict and anxiety are a fundamental part of every human beings life from, it could be argued, a prenatal stage to the inevitable death (Berk, 2004). Conflict can be defined as the emotional predicament people experience when they are placed in situations where difficult choices are to be made (Kosslyn & Rosenberg, 2004). This can be as simple as deciding if toast or cereal is going to be sufficient for breakfast, or as difficult as deciding when the right time to turn off a loved ones life support machine. Anxiety can be defined as a state of nervousness, fear, worry, unease or apprehension. The body's biological response to anxiety is a state of arousal, which may include symptoms similar to the fight or flight response (Kosslyn & Rosenberg, 2004).As with conflict, there are many daily situations in which one might experience anxiety, and the two emotions are far from exclusive of eachother.
Theorists have long debated the cause and purpose for such emotions as conflict and anxiety. Namely, B. F. Skinner and Sigmund Freud who are perhaps the two greatest figures in psychology. Each proposed a grand theory that has had a tremendous impact on the field. With Freud, attempting to infer what goes on within the mind using hypnosis, dream analysis and psychoanalysis and Skinner's focus on the study of only directly observable behaviour, the two perspectives appear to be wholly incompatible.
While Skinner's theories may appear to be complete opposite to a Freudian approach, he explained how his theory of behaviourism could be adapted to theories in different disciplines, including Freud's psychodynamic theory (Monte & Sollod, 2003). Skinner pejoratively dismissed'introspectionistic' approaches to the field of psychology and placed the focus the role of the environment as most influential on behaviour. He took an extreme fact-based approach to science and even questioned the need for deep theoretical…


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