Aversion therapy is a form of behavioral modification therapy that involves pairing a stimulus causing a strong negative reaction (pain, disgust, nausea) with a behavior to eliminate or reduce that behavior. It has been one of the most controversial forms of psychological interventions since the mid-1960s. After reviewing the theoretical background of aversion therapy, this entry discusses the controversy surrounding this form of therapy as well as its current clinical use.

Theoretical Background

Aversion therapy as a form of behavioral therapy is related to conditioning theory—both classical and operant forms—although there are important distinctions. Classical conditioning is based on the link between a stimulus and a response (the classic example being the association between ringing a bell and food for dogs: in response to the stimulus, ...

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