Changing Negative Emotions with Training

A quote from Susan this morning. Its slightly re-worded as I jotted it down so fast I had to re-jig it for it to make sense to anyone but me 🙂 ;

“CS- (negative conditioned stimulus; negative emotions which are now a learned response to a previously neutral (unconditioned) or positive stimulus) can be converted to a CS+ (positive conditioned stimulus) if consistently followed by +R, or vice versa (CS+ can be changed to CS- if consistently followed by +P).”

So….when the use of pressure to provide guidance becomes aversive (remember, pressure (+P) is not inherently aversive) we can change that. It takes time, patience, consistency, clarity and thoughtfulness.

When Brody came to me at a 1 year old (he was probably 10-11 mo old going by how his teeth developed) he was in a pretty good state of conditioned suppression; you do what you are told when you are told and deviation from that results in pressure that will be aversive. He had learned to comply because the alternative was that he would be forced to comply. So, Brody and I started the long process of turning many CS-‘s in to CS+’s. It was not a quick process. For example; it was 6 months before I could pick out one foot after the other and get all 4 done in one session….that was just one of the CS- we had to change his response to.

9 years later, he still has one leg that still has a hint of CS- attached to it. I say hint as as it does not trigger the same degree of response that it used to, but there is still an emotional ‘flash back’ there for him when I put my hand on a certain spot for longer than a certain amount of time (a few seconds).


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