Behavior Analysis in the Era of Medicalization: The State of the Science and Recommendations for Practitioners

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2009


Recent decades have witnessed an increase in biological explanations of common disorders such as depression and anxiety, a phenonmenon termed “medicalization” (Conrad, 2007). Behavior analysts may find it difficult to implement non-drug treatment with a populace that has become inundated with biological explanations and a preference for medication as the treatment of choice. Research frequently cited in support of medicalization includes studies of drug effectiveness, as well as family studies and studies of brain structure and function. Methodological and interpretation difficulties within those bodies of research are described and recommendations are made so that behavioral practitioners may function optimally within the culture of biological causation.


The version of record is available from the Association for Behavioral Analysis International at http://www.abainternational.org/journals/behavior-analysis-in-practice.aspx.

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