Aversion therapy
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Aversion Therapy. A treatment based on the principles of classical conditioning. Aversion Therapy. Uses classical conditioning to get rid of addictions or unwanted behaviours. Patient’s unwanted addiction is paired with a drug that makes them sick or electric shocks. Aversion Therapy.

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Aversion Therapy

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Aversion therapy

Aversion Therapy

A treatment based on the principles of classical conditioning


Aversion therapy1

Aversion Therapy

  • Uses classical conditioning to get rid of addictions or unwanted behaviours.

  • Patient’s unwanted addiction is paired with a drug that makes them sick or electric shocks.


Aversion therapy2

Aversion Therapy

  • Aversion therapy can be used with alcoholics.

  • Alcohol is paired with an emetic drug (a drug which causes nausea and vomiting).

  • Over time the alcoholic associates alcohol with being sick and does not want to drink alcohol anymore.

  • Other drinks such as soft drinks are given without the drug so that the person is not conditioned to feel sick to all drinks.


Aversion therapy3

Aversion Therapy

(UCS) Emetic DrugVomiting (UCR)

(NS) Alcohol

+ (UCS) Emetic DrugVomiting (UCR)

(CS) AlcoholVomiting (CR)


Aversion therapy4

Aversion Therapy

  • Aversion therapy can be used with paedophiles.

  • Paedophiles can give themselves a self-administered electric shock every time they look at a child or a picture of a child.


Evaluation of aversion therapy

Evaluation of Aversion Therapy

+Can help alcoholics when used alongside another treatment or people who overeat (electric shocks/mental association with something horrid)

-Effects may not be permanent

  • Association between alcohol and vomiting may fade over time if the person drinks alcohol without taking the emetic drug.

  • Ethical issues

    • Distressing, patient lacks control


  • Evaluation how to get 4 marks

    Evaluation – how to get 4 marks

    • It can be criticised on ethical grounds as the patients are deliberately being made ill/sick/hurt/

    • However the patients give full informed consent so know what will happen to them

    • It doesn’t last long term as the patient may learn that having alcohol doesn’t make you sick

    • It has been shown to be more effective for addictions than other treatments

    • It doesn’t change the reasons for the behaviour so the underlying problem may still be there


    Evaluation of aversion therapy1

    Evaluation of Aversion Therapy

    • The Little Albert study showed that classical conditioning principles can be used to give a fear response.

      • Little Albert was classically conditioned to fear a rat that he was previously unafraid of.


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