Aversion therapy

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The aversion therapy ( latin aversio " disgust " aversatio "dislike") is a method of behavioral therapy , which is popular with self-injurious behavior and addictions is applied. Aversion therapy is based on principles of conditioning . Unwanted behavior is coupled with unpleasant stimuli . The aim of therapy is to reduce the frequency of problem behavior.


The basic idea of ​​behavior therapy is that undesirable behaviors are learned and therefore can be unlearned again. The prerequisite for treatment is always a thorough analysis of behavior and problems, as well as the patient's information and consent .

Frequently used aversive stimuli are nausea and (mild) electrical stimuli. Other ways of treating aversion are e.g. B. the time-out procedure ( time-out technique ), amplifier withdrawal (see. Operant conditioning ) or compensation ("overcorrection") or z. B. wetting with water. In addition, the association of problem behavior with aversive stimuli can also be carried out in the imagination ( hidden sensitization ).

Indication and successes

Aversion methods are nowadays a second choice and are only to be used if a certain undesirable behavior significantly affects the patient and other methods have proven to be unsuccessful.

For the use of electrical stimuli, most reports and the greatest successes for z. Sometimes life-threatening, self-harming behavior, such as pulling hair , vomiting voluntarily or banging the head.

For the use of covert awareness raising see there .

Aversion therapy in the media

In the novel A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess , known from the film adaptation of the same name by Stanley Kubrick , a particularly impressive example of aversion therapy is presented: A sex offender has to watch violence and sex videos, while at the same time being administered a drug that causes nausea. The procedure is repeated until the mere sight of violence - even without medication - makes him sick.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d J. Sandler: Aversion treatment . In: Michael Linden, Martin Hautzinger: Behavioral Therapy Manual . Heidelberg: Springer, 5th ed. 2005, pp. 111–112, ISBN 3-540-40678-6 .
  2. ^ WL Roth: Covered conditioning . In: Michael Linden, Martin Hautzinger: Behavioral Therapy Manual . Heidelberg: Springer, 5th ed. 2005, pp. 303-308, ISBN 3-540-40678-6 .