Essay on A Clockwork Orange By Anthony Burgess

Essay on A Clockwork Orange By Anthony Burgess

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“While physics and mathematics may tell us how the universe began, they are not much use in predicting human behavior because there are far too many equations to solve,” (Stephen Hawking). People on a day to day basis do many actions without realizing it and most of the time they do not know why they make them. All organisms, including human beings, are highly influenced by the consequences produced by their own behavior. In the book A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, Alex the narrator, is a wild and young boy who along with his friends gets a high by causing harm to others by committing acts of robbery and rape. Alex eventually gets caught and is sent to prison. During his prison stay, scientists are interested in Alex’s violent behavior and so they use him in an experiment called Ludovico’s technique. The scientists believe that through special training or technique Alex and his evil ways can be fixed. Alex was exposed to a program that would produce an undesirable physical reaction that would make him feel pain whenever he is exposed to sex, violence, or certain types of music. The Ludovico 's Technique is a form of behavior modifier, most likely inspired by Burrhus Frederic Skinner.
B. F. Skinner was a well-known psychologist/behaviorist who founded the operant of behaviorism. He was also known for the “Skinner box” and other great experiments. Skinner however, believes most behavior differs from the classical form of conditioning, believing in what is called operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is different from classical conditioning because it involves actual behavior. Instead of reflex responses, operant conditioning rewards or punishes a person for actually doing something. In Alex’s case, his beha...


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...ex’s experience could be viewed as a combination of classical and operant conditioning, which is a way to modify behavior. Classical conditioning is what made Alex feel ill whenever he watched the ultra-violence. The injections that he received were an unconditioned stimulus and the following sickness was an unconditioned response to the injection. Since the doctors made him watch violent video clips while the injection was working, he began to associate what he watched with what he felt. The final result was Alex feeling sick when he was witness to sex, violence, and certain type of music, even without the injections. The violence became the conditioned stimulus, and Alex’s sickness without the injection became the conditioned response. Skinner helped in understanding behaviorism and explain how human behavior would change if the environment were manipulated.

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