As comprehensive psychological theories of human behavior began to emerge in the early 1900's, each was faced with the challenge of explaining the distinct symptoms, but apparently irrational nature, of phobias. For example, in 1909, Sigmund Freud published his account of the case of "Little Hans," a young boy with a horse phobia. Freud hypothesized that Hans had an unconscious fear of his father which was transferred to a more appropriate object: the horse. Freud's treatment of phobias involved analyzing the unconscious conflicts (through psychoanalysis) and giving patients insight into the "true" nature of their fears.
An alternative explanation of phobias based on the principles of Pavlov-ian conditioning was proposed by John B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner in 1920. They conditioned a fear of a white rat in an infant nicknamed "Little Albert" by pairing presentation of the rat with a frightening noise (an unconditioned stimulus). After a few such trials, simply presenting the rat (now a conditioned stimulus) produced fear and crying (the conditioned response).
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