[page 100-102 of Walker (1984)]
NOT in the handout

Main refs

Wolpe, J. (1952) Experimental neurosis as learned behaviour. British Journal of Psychology, 43, 234-68.

Wolpe, J. (1958) Psychotherapy by Reciprocal Inhibition. Stanford University Press.

see also

Walker, S.F. (1984) Learning Theory and Behaviour Modification. Methuen: London. (pp. 99-109)

American Psychological Association (1980) Distinguished Scientific Award for the Application of Psychology: 1989,. Joseph Wolpe. American Psychologist, 35, 44-51.  

Following experiments on cats (see below and Wolpe, 1952, above) Joseph Wolpe introduced “Systematic desensitization” as a treatment for specific phobias and other related anxiety disorders. This treatment has since been very widely used. It is described on page 826 of Gleitman et al. (1999).

A brief description at a small College in N. Carolina.

American Psychological Association page on panic disorder, which includes reference to systemic desensitization for interoceptive (internal) cues.  


Wolpe's Cats
Wople, J. (1976) Theme and Variations. Oxford: Pergamon.
Chap 3: The case history of a neurotic cat.

Also from Wople (1958) schedule I was no food with shock
Schedule II was with feeding in the room before shock

Septima was in schedule I — no food.

Schedule II animals still jumped into the carrying cage in the home room, then became anxious as carried downstairs


Aug 21 and 23, 1947


2 shock sessions in cage with hooter


Sept 1st


No shock or hooter but no eating.


Sept 2

4 rooms A,B, C, D
D upstairs with no lab tables and a peculiar smell

Not eating in room A eyes wide, same in B.

Room C refuses pellets or mince

but in D eyes no longer dilated, and ate.

Sep 3

eventually ate in D, but considerable anxiety to the carrier. Room C, less anxious than before.

Oct 3

accidental extra shock.

Oct 16

hissed at Wolpe but ate in room A:

Oct 20

room B eating immediately rubbing herself on the carrier: first time eating in the exptl cage.



June 25th, 1948
10 months after first shock
Now indifferent to the hooter, and purring.