The History and Evolution of Behavioral Approaches
and Positive Behavioral Interventions
The Escalation of Negatives
Derrick Dufresne: I can't tell you of a seminal moment where either I learned, or the field learned, that maybe we had to do something different. But what happened is going from the works of people like Pavlov and Skinner and Tizard and other people, we started to understand that not only was there an ideology about the history of the behavior, but we also started confronting—I don't think we called them ethical dilemmas—but we started... to have these conversations about – is everything okay as long as I ratchet it up?
In other words, if I start positive with somebody that hits me, and if I try extinction or ignoring or reinforcement or tokens... if I start there, if it works, great. Everybody's happy. But there were some people whose behavior was such that that didn't work. So then what we did is we increased the ante, and we said "You have to go sit in the corner for two minutes, five minutes," or whatever. Then sometimes that didn't work. And so we ratcheted it up a little bit more.
And it was as a result of this... that people like me who never, ever, thought I'd be sitting here and talking about it, ended up participating in... spraying Tabasco sauce in somebody's face to keep them from hitting. And wearing a bottle, a concoction of Tabasco sauce on my hip in order that, when Tom hit himself, I was supposed to spray this solution in his face.
Well, what a surprise that even when I didn't have the bottle, when there wasn't a visible indication to Tom that I was armed and ready to deploy, he shied away from me. And if I even reached into my pocket for a handkerchief, for coins, he would go like this. And I never realized, I never, ever realized, the trauma that we caused people. I never realized that it's almost impossible to bond with someone you've hurt.