Andrew Salter - Conditioned Reflex Therapy

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Posted on 2011-01-30. By anonymous.


Andrew Salter - Conditioned Reflex Therapy

From the front and back flaps:

This book presents an important method of psychotherapy, rich in theory, and completely down-to-earth and practical. Based on the Nobel Prize discoveries of the great physiologist Ivan Pavlov, and on the author's day-to-day work with hundreds of people, it marks a new era in psychotherapy the era of the conditioned reflex. It makes possible a tremendous saving in time, money and anguish for great numbers of people in search of psychological assistance. Not only is the book lively in style, but it is as sound as the most recent laboratory experiments and numerous case histories can make it.

`Andrew Salter's application of Pavlov's conditioned reflex science to the everyday lives of human beings promises to be of fundamental importance in the prevention of mental ills. To the physician and the man in the street it offers a science of self-control. Salter's book records his pioneering work with crystal clarity. Lay persons, physicians and psychiatrists can read it with profound personal and intellectual benefit.

In the field of psychology this work may well become a landmark of the order of Darwin's Origin of Species.' PAUL DE KRUIF.

'A most stimulating book. It is a pleasure to read a book on therapy in which the concepts used are clear-cut and have a theoretical basis.' NORMAN R. F. MATER, Professor of Psychology, university of Michigan.

In Salter's words:

`Psychoanalysis has outlived its usefulness. Its methods are vague, its treatment is long drawn out, and more often than not, its results are insipid and unimpressive. But we may ask ourselves, might it not be that psychotherapy, by its very nature, must always be difficult, ime-consuming, and inefficient? I do not think so. I say flatly that psychotherapy can be quite rapid and extremely efficacious. I know so because I have done so. And if the reader will bear with me, I will show him how by building our therapeutic methods on the firm scientific bed rock of Pavlov, we can keep out of the Freudian metaphysical quicksands and help ten persons in the time that the Freudians are getting ready to "help" one.' Some may find the frankness of this book distressing because it does not mince words in talking about human behaviour. But blunt as it is, everybody will find it written with sympathy and understanding, and an uncompromising regard for truth.

Background information on Andrew Salter (from Wikipedia)

Andrew Salter (May 9, 1914-October 6, 1996) was the founder of Conditioned Reflex Therapy, an early form of behaviour therapy which emphasized assertive and expressive behaviour as the way to combat the inhibitory personality traits which Salter believed were the underlying cause of most neuroses.

In the 1940s, Salter introduced to American psychotherapy a Pavlovian model of hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis training.


Andrew Salter received his BA from NYU, and was "grand-fathered in" as a practicing (Manhattan at 1000 Park Avenue at East 84th Street) psychologist with only a BA. He was a genius who was fluent in seven languages. He first made his mark clearing out the alcoholic's ward at New York's Bellevue Hospital by curing patients with hypnosis and teaching them self-hypnosis (autosuggestion).


Salter also brought attention to the fact that Pavlovian Psychology was a lot more than simple Classical Conditioning, citing the work done in Pavlov's Russian laboratory for over a quarter of a

century. Salter is considered by many to be the "father of behavior therapy". Salter is certainly one of the first psychotherapists who adapted and applied learning theories to clinical practice.

Salter believed in releasing personal "inhibitions" by practicing techniques leading to what he called "excitation" which results in "disinhibition", a state which he described as akin to being slightly drunk. Chapter 8 in "Conditioned Reflex Therapy" contains all of the "exercises" (like the deliberate use of the word "I") leading to a state of excitation. Today, excitation, a term from the Pavlovian lexicon, might be referred to as a combination of "assertion" and "disinhibition".

Salter, as did other "behaviorists" of the time, also had his patients learn and practice Edmund Jacobson's technique of "progressive relaxation".


Salter's hypnotic and relaxation techniques were first explained in his book, "What Is Hypnosis?" which was proclaimed a work of genius by Theodore X. Barber, a physiologist who researched hypnotic induction (Barber and Calverley) during the post World War II era. Salter's writing is brilliant and the style excellent. Informative, entertaining and well worth reading. Salter was a serious writer with a great sense of humor and irony.


Salter is often considered to be the founder of assertiveness training, although he did not use the term himself. His book Conditioned Reflex Therapy (1949) describes many case studies in which he used primitive assertiveness techniques, termed "excitatory exercises", which became the basis of subsequent behavior therapy for assertiveness.


Salter's techniques were revived among college students during the early and mid 1970's at Bernard M. Baruch College (City University of New York) by Richard Rodriguez, a student leader and newspaper Editor-in-Chief of "The (Baruch College) Ticker". Rodriguez, who was introduced to Salter's work by ex-Marine and fellow student, Brian Guerre. After corresponding with Salter, Rodriguez held training sessions on campus in the office of his "Health Sciences Society" organization which he founded in 1972. Over a two year period, Rodriguez trained over two hundred students in progressive relaxation and autosuggestion, which improved the students' ability to study and perform better on exams. Mr. Rodriguez's motto was "relax to your purpose". Rodriguez has also advanced the theory that all human conflict is based on each individual's (or group's) unfulfilled (long term/life long) expections, which may be modified to a limited extent, through Salter's techniques of personality reconstruction.

Richard Rodriguez is a former math and science teacher; former NYCTA (MTA) manager; current member of The National Citizens Coalition for Nursing Home Reform [] and the National Association of Social Workers []; currently serves pro bono publico on the Board of Directors of the National Alliance of Family Councils, Inc. [] On July 4, 2008, Rodriguez created and posted an online journal exalting liberty and free speech at []. Since 2007, Rodriguez has served as President of East Haven Nursing and Rehab Center's Family Council of

Bronx, New York [].

In a recent phone interview, Rodriguez remarked: "Although we now know much more about the workings and chemistry of the brain then was known 65 years ago, Salter's techniques remain extremely effective and life altering. His works remained in print for over 25 years and have been translated in over a dozen languages and his books have earned numerous accolades. Proponents of Behavior Modification, Assertiveness Training, Auto-relaxation, Progressive (Systematic) Desensitization and Psychoprophylaxis have all used principles and applications proposed, developed or applied by Salter, whether or not they acknowledge that reality."


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