Electrical aversion therapy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Electrical aversion therapy (EAT) is the administration of electrical shocks following exposure to cues that stimulate inappropriate urges or behaviors (respondent conditioning) or following the carrying out of the behaviors (operant conditioning). In addition, EAT is the immediate application of an aversive electrical stimulus following uncalled-for behavior, with the aim of reducing behavior. In 1997, Didden et al. found that the response contingent procedure was superior in behavior problems in intellectual disability, compared to other behavioral therapeutic strategies. The electrical stimulus as an aversive consequence to the behavior makes it possible to exactly link the response and the stimulus. EAT is mostly applied in intellectually disabled or autistic individuals who show severe self-injuring behavior. Since aversion therapy is used to eliminate problematic behaviors and unwanted desires, its uses are more limited than talk therapy and many other types of psychotherapy. Disorders, conditions, and problems for which aversion therapy is most frequently used include drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. Contingent shock is the administration of highly painful electrical shock to subjects immediately following their carrying out of markedly injurious behavior to others or more commonly to themselves, such as eye gouging or finger biting. The other form used levels of shock determined by the subjects to reduce behaviors they found unacceptable, such as compulsive homosexual behaviors, gambling, paraphilic behaviors, and use of alcohol and other substances. This article has detailed EAT-associated problems and limitations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Curated Reference Collection in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology
PublisherElsevier Science Ltd.
ISBN (Electronic)9780128093245
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Alcoholism
  • Aversion therapy
  • Conditioning
  • Gambling
  • Homosexual
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Electrical aversion therapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this