October 17, 2014
Written by Maximus Peperkamp, M.S. Verbal Behaviorist
This writer is an Associate Faculty at Butte College. He teaches an entry level psychology course called Principles of Psychology. He enjoys teaching since this gives him the opportunity to interact with students and to experiment. One of his experiments is giving students the chance to gain extra credit points by writing a two page thought paper. The paper starts with the verbal instruction “When I listen to the sound of my voice while I speak, then…..” The students like to do this assignment and write the most wonderful papers one can imagine.
This writer just finished reading a beautiful paper that was written by one of his students. It is so reinforcing to read these papers, because students validate in them so elegantly and elaborately both the workings and the existence of Sound Verbal Behavior (SVB) as well as Noxious Verbal Behavior (NVB).
The student whose paper this writer just read started out by saying that he is not overly fond of his own voice. In the second sentence, however, he stated that as a child, he was not allowed speak, he was told to keep quiet and that what he said didn’t matter. This sums up this writer’s own behavioral history, which led him to discover SVB. As the student began to listen to himself while he speaks, he realized that listening to his voice made him uncomfortable. It is significant this would be the first thing that he noticed. What is apparent from such a sad, but common statement is that this person was rejected and has been rejecting himself. Oddly, he was so used to rejecting himself that, until he did this exercise, it had never occurred to him that he didn’t like his own voice, let alone, question why that might be the case. Due to the environmental support which he and other students received from this writer in class, he was able recognize that it was actually quite strange that he didn’t like to hear his own voice. It didn’t take long for him to say to himself that as a child, he was often not allowed to speak and hear himself. What he was saying, and what many others have been saying, was that he was made to listen to others, while he was not allowed to listen to himself. The production of his own sound was not allowed. He believed that nothing he said was worth to be listened to.
This writer has read hundreds of versions of a similar behavioral history. People continue to engage in NVB because they were conditioned to listen to others and not to themselves. In each paper that was written by this writer's students one can read the same process. First, they don't like to listen to themselves, they fear listening to themselves, they dread listening to themselves, but, because of this assignment, which they must do alone, they listen to themselves and begin to question why it is so strange or hard to listen to themselves? Once this question has been formulated the answer comes out and they let themselves know about how they were coerced to listen to others. Moreover, as they begin to listen to themselves, they fully enjoy doing this and they realize that they have always secretively enjoyed this already.