A Look at Classical Conditioning | Aaron P. Dean |
| A Clockwork Orange |
I. A brief overview of “A Clockwork Orange” (A.C.O.)
A. General Information and Plot Synopsis
B. Alex DeLarge
C. Thesis Statement
II. Classical Conditioning
D. What is Classical Conditioning?
i. The Pavlovian Method
a. The Basic Components
* Defined Theories
b. Specific examples in A.C.O.
ii. John Watson’s Approach
c. Emotional Conditioning
* Key Elements
iii. Specific examples in A.C.O.
E. Tying It All Together
iv. Ethical Concerns
v. In ...view middle of the document...
A couple of years later, in order to get an early release, Alex volunteers to undergo an experimental procedure called the Ludovico technique; [described below] a supposed ‘miracle cure’ for violent behavior. The technique seems to work, so Alex is released the very next day. However, his next few days are wracked with torment as many of the people he had wronged take the opportunity to get revenge. Due to the technique used on Alex, he is completely unable to defend himself against their assaults so he gets beaten, drugged and tortured which leads to him severely injuring himself when he attempts suicide in order to escape the anguish (Sparknotes, 2004) (Kubrick, 1971).
Alex DeLarge is a sociopath who is very much like the pet snake he keeps in the drawer under his bed. A sociopath is defined as “a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience” (Dictionary.com), and this describes Alex quite well. He is cold, calculating, and sadistic but with a noticeable undertone of playfulness and hedonism. All of these things, combined with a certain fluidity of his mannerisms, give the impression that he is every inch the social predator that he aspires to be…one without conscience or remorse. In addition to this, he also has a more refined side as he likes to dress fashionably; enjoys the arts, especially music; and is a fan of the classical composers; specifically Ludwig Van Beethoven. I feel that this adds to his predatory nature because it gives him a sense of superiority over those he views as ‘less cultured’. It is these very qualities that are responsible for his downfall, at the hands of his gang-mates, and his volunteering for the Ludovico technique (Pearson, 2008) (Sparknotes, 2004) (Kubrick, 1971).
Classical Conditioning was used by the government, in A Clockwork Orange, as a form of behavioral therapy in an attempt to ‘cure’ Alex’s unruly behavior. However, while they were able to stop him from committing those heinous crimes again; it was at the cost of his mental, physical, and emotional freedom.
What is Classical Conditioning?
Classical conditioning is “a method of learning [a relatively permanent change in behavior, knowledge, capability, or attitude] through which an organism learns to associate one stimulus with another” (Pearson, 2008), and was discovered, not intentionally, by Ivan Pavlov while he was doing research on the digestive process. Through various scientific trials, Pavlov was able to identify the three basic components required for classical conditioning to occur; the first is the organism [or subject] to be conditioned. Second is the unconditioned stimulus which is anything that provokes an unconditioned response [a specific response learned without any prior learning on the part of the subject]. Third is the neutral stimulus which is “a...