Finding Mr. Brightside

"You never knew who was going to open the door when you knocked"

~ Killers lead singer, Brandon Flowers

Lewinsohn's behavioral theory of depression is based on the tenants of operant conditioning (you may remember B.F. Skinner, the father of operant conditioning from psychology 101). Simply stated, the basic principle of operant conditioning is: behavior or responses which are reinforced tend to continue; behavior or responses which are not reinforced tend to die out over time or in some case, go completely extinct. Extinction however, can be a danger zone.

Lewinsohn argued that the essence of depression is a low rate ofresponse-contingent reinforcement for social and other behaviors. When extinction of social and other behaviors occurs, this often includes pessimism about life and people, low self-esteem and social isolation. These attitudes and beliefs then tend to decrease the likelihood of behavior-contingent positive reinforcement in the future....and on and on.

According to Lewinsohn's theory, it seems the only way to break this depressive cycle is to increase behavior and interaction with the world. In other words, find a gentle way to continue knocking on the door of life for potential new experiences. Without interaction, there is little opportunity for new experience (relationships), new perspective (optimism), and new feeling (excitement, interest, peace).

Here are a few minor examples of how this might play out (read #1 and #2, but make sure you read & listen to #3):

1. How many times have you felt like skipping work on Monday morning? Perhaps you even considered calling in sick, debated on playing hooky, but ultimately got your butt out of bed and went into work. Then half way through they day, you noticed, "huh, I feel pretty good". What happened? Perhaps you had a positive interaction with a colleague, someone told you a joke in the elevator, or maybe you felt better simply because you followed through on your commitment and responsibilities.

2. OR, how many times have you almost canceled plans to go out with a friend, or to attend a party or a work function? But, you made yourself go, and on this evening met a lucrative business connection, met a new romantic partner, a new friend or just had a stupendous time, i.e. were positively reinforced. 3. Brandon Flower and band mate Dave Keuning were both trying desperately to create a band. They were "lost souls" struggling in Las Vegas to fulfill their dream. I imagine they didn't always feel like knocking on another door. However, they did continue knocking.

Click this link to Listen: ...Lead singer Brandon Flowers, details how he met his bandmate Dave Keuning and what ultimately created The Killer's.

You can create a better life, but according to Lewinsohn, you have to keep KNOCKING...

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