What is the behavior system?
The human organism is comprised entirely of systems, e.g. the immune system, digestive system, etc. A defining characteristic of a system is that it responds involuntarily to conditions around it, especially support for health. For example, when one consumes nourishing food, the digestive system involuntarily uses that food for daily metabolism and healing, as needed—without conscious instruction from the person who eats the food. An expression of primordial intelligence, involuntary response is necessary for all body systems, as one’s attention cannot monitor every bodily event.
Behavior is another self-regulating body system, perennially responsive to the body’s environment—irrespective of one’s conscious attention or lack thereof. For example, imagine someone having a bad day, harshly judging himself for a mistake he made at work. Being miserable and preoccupied, he is barely aware of his surroundings. Still, he is able to avoid car accidents and run errands with aplomb; the safety function of his behavior system remains alert and operational. Then, while shopping, he encounters a friend who offers support in the form of touch and empathy. Instantly, his behavior, emotions, and self-perception all improve, without any voluntary decision or effort. How is this possible? Like the digestive system, his behavior system (specifically the connection function) automatically noticed and used the supportive conditions to accomplish its self-regulation objective. Healthy self-regulation in the behavior system means effective behavior, which immediately produces a positive emotional state. In this case, the subject's effective connection behavior 1) pulled him out of his dysfunctional self-absorption, and 2) reached out to connect with his friend.
If one spells out the mechanical details of behavior, certain principles become clear. Firstly, every behavior begins with an impulse, which can be placed in one of nine categories of behavior impulses, or behavior functions. Impulses are expressed voluntarily or involuntarily (without conscious decision), internally (e.g. thinking or paying attention) or overtly (with body movement), locally (in a small area of the body) or systemically, and effectively or ineffectively—i.e. health versus dysfunction or mistake. Expression (behavior) of behavior impulses results in an immediate change in emotional state, whereas biological impulse activity does not, e.g. peristalsis. A key mechanical truth, revealed by the Arneson Method's behavior system model, is the fact that any behavior impulse will involuntarily shift from ineffective expression (dysfunction) to effective expression (healthy behavior) when the impulse's natural purpose is adequately supported, as in the example above. This shift is called spontaneous conversion.