shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
I learned recently that I've created my own personal Pavlovian response. I've been using asthma inhalers for over twenty years, now. In case you've never used one, it goes kinda like this:

1. Shake inhaler.
2. Exhale fully.
3. Raise it to your mouth.
4. Spray it in your mouth as you simultaneously inhale.

I also have been using a steroidal spray to help counter post-nasal drip, which is a big trigger for asthma. It goes like this:

1. Shake bottle.
2. Exhale fully.
3. Raise it to your nose.
4. Spray it in your nose as you simultaneously inhale.

I've recently started taking Vitamin B12 supplements in the form of an oral spray. Whenever I go to use it, I do the first two steps every time. There's no need to exhale. I drink the stuff; I don't breathe the stuff. Yet it takes a major conscious effort to avoid exhaling. Not that exhaling makes a difference, one way or the other. It's just fascinating to me how I've formed this habit.

Conditioning is "a behavioral process whereby a response becomes more frequent or more predictable in a given environment as a result of reinforcement, with reinforcement typically being a stimulus or reward for a desired response" (Encyclopedia Britannica). I'm not even getting a reward for my reinforcement. Well, not an immediate, perceivable reward, at least. So I guess it isn't conditioning, after all, but ritual, instead: "A ritual is...any act done regularly, usually without thinking about it" (Cambridge English Dictionary).

What are your rituals and conditioning?

(Elder Squirrel Demon Ritual Summoning Circle)

Date: 2017-03-08 06:16 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I would say conditioning definitely results from negative reinforcement, too, and although it's small, the negative reinforcement from using your inhalers incorrectly isn't negligible. Also, what a strange definition of ritual! Back in my witchy days, I was involved in a lot of rituals and none of them were done mindlessly (although I know that's not true of all/most religions with rituals, especially when the mindless repetition is part of the experience).

Maybe part of your exhale-habit is also a sort of muscle memory?

I think one of my conditioned responses is to distrust groups of white men.

Date: 2017-03-08 06:56 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Granted, it isn't the primary definition of ritual. The primary definition is based more in rites and religion. But it is ritual in the sense of brushing your teeth before bed is a ritual.

I actually did use my inhalers incorrectly for a while, and I didn't even know until I had my technique assessed at an airways clinic.

I don't think I share the distrust of groups of white men, but I do have a conditioned response to distrust groups of people who I perceive (rightfully or not) as douchebags.

Date: 2017-03-08 10:06 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
See, I would ague that the reward for using your inhalers properly is being able to breathe!

Date: 2017-03-08 10:27 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I can breathe without. The quality just happens to decrease almost imperceptibly on a gradual basis when I go with out. So it's not like it's a pull lever, get candy kind of instant reward.

I mean, the average person knows that exercise, healthy diet, and a lack of deleterious vices is good for them, but for the most part, that's not enough of a reward to stay on the straight and narrow. The effects just aren't as immediate as the buzz of getting drunk, or a sugar high from gobbling candy.

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