Last Updated on October 9, 2023, 9:31 am
Dr. Brian Iwata, a renowned American psychologist and professor at the University of Florida, passed away after a brief illness on Saturday, October 7, 2023.
The details of his death have not been made public. His death has deprived the world of a notable psychologist. His contribution to the field of psychology is unparalleled. His legacy will live on in the progress of the field of behavior analysis, which was only possible with his tireless efforts and research.
He published over 200 articles and chapters in his career. His most notable work is his article ‘Towards a Functional Analysis of Self-Injury,’ published in 1982 and republished in 1994 in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. The article holds immense importance in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis.
With his co-authors, Dr. Iwata developed a methodology to discover why self-injury was happening individually. It involved assessing the role of environmental events on self-injurious behavior and using this information to correct the behavior with positive reinforcements instead of punishment. The implementation of this approach has influenced the entire behavior psychology and positively impacted the lives of people with disabilities who engage in self-injurious behavior and the ones who care for them.
He was also a dedicated professor. He was a caring mentor to his doctoral students. He was briefly involved in developing SIBIS, a self-harm suppressing approach that involved punishing with an application of electric skin shock to correct the behavior.
He ditched this approach in favor of positive reinforcement, i.e., with food. He also testified in court against using GED (Graduated Electronic Decelerator), a device used to correct undesirable behavior with powerful electric skin shock. He stated that he had successfully treated the most challenging self-injurious behavior with less punishing methods. GEDs have since been banned in the USA by the United States FDA in 2020.
He was a precious, caring soul who worked tirelessly in the service of humanity. His works shaped countless lives and continue to influence the field of psychology. His legacy will live on in the research and methods he developed in behavior analysis.
We offer our deepest condolences to family and friends. May he rest in peace.
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