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This letter to the Royal College of Psychiatrists and a British newspaper article address the abusive nature of aversion therapy.
Two articles about aversion therapy by a gay activist:
- An account of his 1972 protest against a leading psychologistís advocacy of aversion therapy to cure homosexuality, noting its traumatic effects.
- He describes the use of electric shock and vomit-inducing drugs, and reports on a campaign to win compensation for the victims.
This article describes behaviorism (the psychological theory behind aversion therapy), its inadequacies, and the harmful effects of aversion therapy.
This Oregon treatment program for youth and adults monitors and controls all sexual feelings.

Treatment for boys who are attracted to younger adolescents and children usually involves the following components (regardless of whether they are aggressive):
  • diagnosis by connecting a device called a plethysmograph to the boy's penis to measure his erection while exposing him to pornography involving adults, youth, and children.
  • attempting to change his sexual feelings through one of the following procedures:
    • Aversion therapy: repeatedly subjecting the youth to nauseating or painful fumes (such as ammonia) while exposing him to pornograpy.
    • Covert sensitization: repeatedly having him recount his sexual fantasies and shaming and humiliating him for them.
    • Masturbatory satiation: repeated, lengthy masturbation.
  • monitoring and reporting of all sexual feelings, thoughts, and fantasies, often with lie detectors, again in the context of shaming and humiliation.
A plethysmograph. The loop at one end is placed around the penis, and the other end is inserted into the recording device shown at right.
This treatment is administered under coercion from police and/or therapists in a hostile and punitive environment.

There is no evidence that the development of sexual attraction can be changed through these methods. In fact, the evidence points to the opposite: historically, attempts to change sexual feelings using these methods have consistently failed.

Research on the effectiveness of these methods on those attracted to younger people is identical to the old literature on homosexuality. Most is done without adequate scientific controls and produces contradictory and inconclusive results, while the few studies that are well-conducted show only temporary decreases in sexual arousal, if any at all.

Not only are these methods ineffective, they may cause severe psychological damage. It is widely recognized that aversion therapy for gay men caused severe psychological trauma, including chronic anxiety, depression, and suicide. There is no evidence that the same effects would not be seen in people attracted to younger adolescents or children.

In addition, the coerced use of these methods invade the most private part of the youth's body and mind, humiliating him for his sexuality. They interfere with the attainment of mental health by preventing the development of a sense of self-acceptance and a consolidated positive identity. Rather than combating stigma, these methods intentionally and systematically stigmatize the youth by monitoring and controlling his sexual thoughts and feelings, by communicating false information about his sexuality, and by requiring him to admit to a hideous nature.

Thus Age Taboo rejects sex offender treatment as ineffective in changing sexual feelings, psychologically dangerous, and emotionally abusive.

Readers' Comments
Submitted 02 Oct 04

I understood aversion therapy had been abandoned decades ago following blatantly obvious failures with gay men, now it seems that even child 'boy lovers' are being subjected to it.....and they call us sick?

The therapy described above is without question abusive in itself and is the product of as sick mind. There is nothing more destructive than the morally indignant on the march. There 3 decade long anti paedophile withchunt has spread from America to almost every country on earth. In The USA and UK alone an entire generation has been brought up 'indoors' to avoid 'stranger danger', despite all the facts pointing towards child murders and non consensual sexual contact being committed by step fathers, relatives, neighbours or mum's current boyfriend.

Colin (55)


Submitted 07 Feb 04

The above treatment does not have a lasting effect. Soldiers captured in war by their enemies have been subjected to similar "brainwash" techniques. The duration of the effect depends upon the duration of the "treatment"; i.e. 6 months "treatment", 6 months lasting effect afterwards. If you want to change sexual orientation you need more drastic measures. I suppose surgical removal (or deadening) of the sex-center of the brain would be more effective. Castration is known to have a lasting effect, if complete enough.

Renault (50)

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