|Widespread social behavior significantly impact how the schema organizes|
information and the intensity of automatic thoughts
The Role of Automatic Thoughts and Addictions
The concept of automatic thoughts and automatic thinking provides deep insight into how people accomplish their daily activities, develop routines and cope with hardships. An example that deeply resonates with automatic thinking is negative behavior such as addiction. Aronson, Wilson, and Akert (2010) define automatic thinking as “nonconscious, unintentional, involuntary, and effortless”. Automatic thinking makes up a significant portion of decision making even if it is not the most rational or ideal. There are so many small stressors, complex daily tasks and social norms that our brain can get overloaded. The feelings of frustration and sadness can result in addiction in an attempt to escape mentally. The processes, such as automatic thinking, start to aid in our destruction.
The schema strengthens these automatic thoughts and reinforces the behavior for future situations. These mental structures set the precedent for any other knowledge gained about similar circumstances. This has dangerous implications for the individual and people that are directly or indirectly affected by the individual. Socialization also has a huge impact on our behavior and the development of the schema. The media, our authority figures, our parents, each have a role in inputting easily accessible data into our mental framework. This is one reason why a child that is being raised by a parent battling alcoholism may be more susceptible to being an alcoholic. I think those who play music do have a stronger understanding of the schema. At first music takes intense learning. For example, if you were a novice violin player you may use tape to play the correct notes and constantly glance at your fingers. However after a while you can play the notes perfectly just by touch without even thinking. Just like any other habit, you don't have to think about what you are doing, your brain automatically know what needs to be done because of past situations. Some people are even more musically inclined if they come from a musical family and teachers further enforce the music lessons in the schema. Similarity, an addiction could be difficult at first but the person will still unconsciously do that same action time after time. For some people especially those with addictive personalities or grew up in households where addictions are a part of daily life, addiction would already have a highly developed schema.
Even after time has passed the song is so strongly embedded in your schema that brain can unconsciously create the correct impulses for the movement of your hands. I think this can explain some relapses, aside from the psychological and biological causes of relapses. Even if the person has been abstaining from drugs or alcohol for some time, the automatic thoughts can be strong in certain situations. Then the person may succumb to the urges and they feel like they've drinking or doing drugs the whole time. Since music is such a strong behavior, I think that it in fact can be a healthy way to overcome addiction or cope with stress.
Harold Kelley (1950) demonstrated that prior knowledge given to us by others can be encoded into our schema and used to help us interact with a new situation. Due to the accessibility of the comments, Harold Kelley was able to influence the student’s perspective on the teacher. This phenomenon can also be explained by priming. Individuals often seek out the assistance of a third party to overcome addictions. The goal of priming would be to teach the students a new form of handling everyday life without their addiction and prime behavior before the situation. The therapist can help to change the addict’s perspective on the addiction, hardship and coping techniques. Support groups can create experiences for the addict that alters the schema and automatic thoughts. The combined effort of these individuals and groups can enable recovery to be more accessible. It would be important for the addict to expose themselves to as many coping and therapy experiences as possible to reinforce the accessibility of coping in the schema and replacing the negative automatic thoughts with more positive thoughts. It would be especially helpful to form friendships or observe people without addictions to further positively impact their schema. A positive schema results in positive automatic thoughts.
Controlled thinking is also offered as a remedy to flawed automatic thinking. It takes a degree of controlled thinking to begin a new activity instead of engaging in negative habits or ruminating on negative thoughts. The effectiveness of controlled thinking does depend on many factors such how significant are the perceived consequences or benefits, the person’s willpower, the amount of support the person is receiving, etc. In some instances a person’s controlled thinking can be faulty due to the corrupted automatic thoughts that have influenced the schema. An addict could think about the consequences of their behavior and transform their automatic thoughts.
There are many factors that play into the start and reinforcement of addiction and eventual recovery. The schema can have a strong impact on the likelihood of addictions being avoided or started. A child that grew up in a household full of addiction will have a schema that is slanted towards addiction. While children that was primed against drugs, alcohol and other substances or activities which can encourage invasive addictions are less likely to suffer from addiction or be tempted by addiction. Socialization and self-fulfilling prophesy can further encourage or discourage new addictions.
Aronson, Wilson, and Akert (2010) Social Psychology (7th Edition)