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Why it is crucial to understand thinking and feeling: An analysis and application to drug abuse
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Behavior analysis has long accepted the legitimacy of the analysis of private events in a natural science of behavior. However the topic has languished as a focus of empirical research in either applied or basic arenas. We argue that recent empirical work examining the bidirectional nature of verbal relations may shed light on the role of private events in complex human behavior. Skinner argued that although it would be possible to analyze private events, we need nor, because thoughts and feelings were viewed as co-occuring products of the same contingencies that are responsible for changes in overt responses. However, the bidirectional transformation of stimulus function inherent in verbal behavior changes the way that private events participate in complex behavioral episodes for verbal organisms. We examine why we have reached such a conclusion, with special emphasis on the role of self-awareness. Finally, we conclude with an application of our analysis to the problem of substance abuse.