Aversion therapy is often used to treat
What It Is, Efficacy, Controversy, and More
Aversion therapy, sometimes called aversive therapy or aversive conditioning, is used to help a person give up a behavior or habit by having them associate it with something unpleasant.
Aversion therapy is most known for treating people with addictive behaviors, like those found in alcohol use disorder. Most research has been focused on its benefits relating to substance use.
This type of therapy is controversial and research is mixed. Aversion therapy isn’t often a first-line treatment and other therapies are preferred.
How long the therapy lasts for has also been criticized, as outside of the therapy, relapse may occur.
Aversion therapy is based off the theory of classical conditioning. Classical conditioning is when you unconsciously or automatically learn a behavior due to a specific stimuli. In other words, you learn to respond to something based on repeated interactions with it.
Aversion therapy uses conditioning but focuses on creating a negative response to an undesirable stimulus, such as drinking alcohol or using drugs.
Many times, in people with substance use disorders, the body is conditioned to get pleasure from the substance — for instance, it tastes good and makes you feel good. In aversion therapy, the idea is to change that.
The exact way aversion therapy is performed depends on the undesirable behavior or habit that’s being treated. One commonly used aversive therapy is chemical aversion for alcohol use disorder. The goal is to reduce a person’s craving for alcohol with chemically-induced nausea.
In chemical aversion, a doctor administers a drug that causes nausea or vomiting if the person being treated drinks alcohol. They then give them alcohol so that the person gets sick. This is repeated until the person begins to associate drinking alcohol with feeling ill and thus no longer craves alcohol.
Other methods that have been used for aversion therapy include:
- electrical shock
- another type of physical shock, like from a rubber band snapping
- an unpleasant smell or taste
- negative imagery (sometimes through visualization)
Can you do aversion therapy at home?
Traditional aversion therapy is done under the supervision of a psychologist or other therapist. You can, however, use aversion conditioning at-home for simple bad habits, such as biting your nails.
To do this, you can place a clear coat of nail polish on your nails, which will taste bad when you go to bite them.
Aversion therapy is believed to be helpful for people wanting to quit a behavior or habit, typically one that’s interfering with their life negatively.
While a lot of research has been done on aversion therapy and alcohol use disorder, other uses for this type of therapy have included:
- other substance use disorders
- eating disorders
- oral habits, such as nail biting
- self-injurious and aggressive behaviors
- certain inappropriate sexual behaviors, such as voyeuristic disorder
Research on these applications is mixed. Some, like lifestyle behaviors, have been generally shown as ineffective. More promise has been found for addiction when using chemical aversion.
Some research has shown that aversion therapy is effective for treating alcohol use disorder.
Recent research found that participants who craved alcohol prior to the therapy reported avoiding alcohol 30 and 90 days after treatment.
Yet, research is still mixed on the effectiveness of aversion therapy. While many studies have shown promising short-term results, the long-term effectiveness is questionable.
While the previously mentioned study found that 69 percent of participants reported sobriety 1 year after treatment, a longer-term study would help to see if it lasted past that first year.
In some of the most comprehensive research on aversion therapy in the 1950s, researchers noted a decline in abstinence over time. After 1 year, 60 percent remained alcohol-free, but it was only 51 percent after 2 years, 38 percent after 5 years, and 23 percent after 10 years or more.
It’s believed that the lack of long-term benefit occurs because most aversion therapy happens in-office. When you’re away from the office, the aversion is harder to maintain.
While aversion therapy may be effective in the short-term for alcohol, there have been mixed results for other uses.
Most research has found aversion therapy to be unhelpful for smoking cessation, especially when the therapy involves rapid smoking. For example, a person would be asked to smoke an entire pack of cigarettes in a very short amount of time until they feel ill.
Aversion therapy has also been considered for treating obesity, but it was extremely hard to generalize to all foods and maintain outside of the therapy.
Aversion therapy has had backlash in the past for several reasons.
Some experts believe that using negative stimulus in aversion therapy is equal to using punishment as a form of therapy, which is unethical.
Before the American Psychiatric Association (APA) deemed it an ethical violation, some researchers used aversion therapy to “treat” homosexuality.
Prior to 1973, homosexuality was considered a mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Some medical professionals believed that it was possible to “cure” it. A homosexual person could be imprisoned or potentially forced into a program of aversion therapy for revealing their orientation.
Some people did voluntarily seek this or other types of psychiatric therapy for homosexuality. This was often due to shame and guilt, as well as societal stigma and discrimination. However, evidence showed that this “treatment” was both ineffective and harmful.
After the APA removed homosexuality as a disorder due no scientific evidence, most research on aversion therapy for homosexuality stopped. Yet, this harmful and unethical use of aversion therapy left it with a bad reputation.
Aversion therapy may be helpful for stopping specific types of unwanted behaviors or habits. Yet, experts believe that even if used, it shouldn’t be used alone.
Aversion therapy is a type of counterconditioning treatment. A second one is called exposure therapy, which works by exposing a person to something they fear. Sometimes these two types of therapies can be combined for a better outcome.
Therapists may also recommend other types of behavioral therapy, along with in or outpatient rehabilitation programs for substance use disorders. For many people who experience addiction, support networks can also help to keep them on track with recovery.
Medication may be prescribed in some cases, including for smoking cessation, mental health conditions, and obesity.
Aversion therapy aims to help people stop undesirable behaviors or habits. Research is mixed on its uses, and many doctors may not recommend it due to criticism and controversy.
You and your healthcare provider can discuss the right treatment plan for you, whether that includes aversion therapy or not. Often, a combination of treatments including talk therapy and medication can help you cope with your concern.
If you have a substance use disorder or believe you may be experiencing addiction, reach out to a healthcare provider. If you’re not sure where to start, you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 800-662-4357.
How It Works & What to ExpectSkip to content
Published: September 9, 2020 Updated: September 28, 2022
Published: 09/09/2020 Updated: 09/28/2022
Aversion therapy motivates behavior change through the formation of negative associations with a behavior. Medication, unpleasant smells or tastes and even electrical shocks are some of the methods used to create negative associations that discourage unwanted behaviors. While controversial, research suggests certain types of aversion therapy can be effective in the treatment of addiction and diseases related to lifestyle.
What Is Aversion Therapy and How Does it Work?
Aversion therapy is a psychological or medical treatment that uses negative physical and emotional associations to encourage behavior change. By pairing a problem behavior with something that creates physical or emotional discomfort, the positive association with the behavior is broken and a new, negative association is developed. This process is also referred to as “counterconditioning,” and is designed to encourage behavior change.7
Some of the methods used in aversion therapy to create unpleasant associations include:8
- Emetic methods: use of medication to induce nausea and vomiting
- Electrical methods: administering electric shocks
- Imaginal methods: use of unpleasant or upsetting mental images or thoughts
- Sensory methods: use of something with an unpleasant sensation (touch, taste or smell)
- Pharmacological methods: use of a medication which creates illness or discomfort when it interacts with a certain substance
Aversion therapy operates off of the principles of behaviorism, which encourages positive behaviors through rewards and discourages unwanted behaviors through punishments. Essentially, behaviorism is based on the idea that human behavior is motivated by natural urges to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Counterconditioning involves pairing behaviors or behavioral cues with painful, unpleasant or uncomfortable experiences to encourage future avoidance.1
Drugs and certain compulsive behaviors like sex, gambling or stealing are believed to activate reward centers in the brain, causing the release of dopamine and causing a pleasurable “high”. Over time, repeating the behavior causes reward or “addiction” pathways to form in the brain, resulting in strong urges to repeat the behavior and making it much harder to stop. Aversion therapy aims to reverse this process by interrupting the reward process and punishing the behavior to create a negative association.2,6,7
Aversion therapy is an umbrella term that actually includes a variety of different treatment methods. Some of these have more evidence to support their use and are more commonly used. For example, the use of pharmacological aversion treatments like Antabuse for alcoholism or orlistat for obesity are much more common than methods using electrical shock or sensory methods.
Aversion training is one of many techniques for changing behaviors that therapists can share. BetterHelp has over 20,000 licensed therapists who provide convenient and affordable online therapy. BetterHelp starts at $60 per week. Complete a brief questionnaire and get matched with the right therapist for you.
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What Can Aversion Therapy Help With?
Aversion therapy can be used to treat a number of behavioral issues, lifestyle diseases, and addictions. In recent years, aversion therapy techniques are most commonly used to treat:1,5
- Drug and alcohol addiction
- Overeating and obesity
- Tobacco or nicotine use
- Compulsive Gambling
Less commonly, aversion therapy has a history of being used to treat:1,8
- Self-harming behavior (i. e. cutting)
- Nail biting or thumb sucking
- Trichotillomania (hair pulling)
- Excoriation (skin picking)
- Problem sexual behaviors
Aversion therapy is usually recommended only when other frontline treatments have been ineffective or when there are other factors complicating treatment. For example, aversion therapy has been used to help reduce self-harming and compulsive sexual behaviors in people who have an underlying brain injury or developmental disorder.2,8 In another example, a person with a history of serious drug use and multiple failed treatments is more likely to be recommended for aversion therapy than a person seeking treatment for the first time.
Aversion Therapy Examples
Aversion therapy has been a controversial treatment and there were many documented instances where its use was unethical and even inhumane. Because of this complicated history, aversion therapy is often misunderstood. The following are examples of aversion therapy as it is most commonly used today.
Aversion Therapy For Alcohol Use Disorder
The FDA-approved medication disulfiram (or Antabuse) is often prescribed to people with alcohol use disorders. Disulfiram is a medication that, when taken daily, causes an adverse response to alcohol by blocking enzymes in the liver. When people on this medication drink alcohol, they will develop uncomfortable symptoms like nausea and vomiting, headaches, changes in blood pressure, sweating, anxiety, and trouble breathing. Some people choose to take the medication to help safeguard against a relapse.3,9
Aversion Therapy For Obesity
Another FDA-approved medication used as a form of aversion therapy for obesity is the drug orlistat (brand names are Xenical and Alli). Orlistat reduces the amount of fat metabolized by the body by approximately 30% but the side effects of the drug are what classify it as a form of aversion therapy. When a person taking orlistat eats foods that are high in fat, they will experience diarrhea, gas, and even an inability to control the bowels. These unpleasant and embarrassing side effects are intentionally designed to create a negative association with eating fatty foods.4
Aversion Therapy For Nail Biting
Aversion therapy for nail biting is also relatively common. This technique is usually accomplished by painting the nails with a bitter substance like neem oil or a formula using a spicy ingredient like cayenne pepper. This at-home technique can be accomplished using products easily bought online or at a drugstore, and has two main functions. The first function is to help nail biters become more aware of the behavior and the second is to create a negative taste association.10
Cost of Aversion Therapy
The cost of aversion therapy varies greatly depending on the type of aversion therapy, whether it is being self-administered or professionally administered, and individual factors like the length of treatment. The most common types of professional aversion therapy are medications which can be prescribed by a primary care doctor or a specialist.
Costs for these pharmacological aversion treatments vary considerably. According to Good RX, the generic version of the drug Antabuse averages around $35 for a 30 day supply. Additional to this cost would be the cost of the actual visit or consultation with the prescribing professional.
Aversion therapy is often recommended in combination with other treatments. For example, those taking the drug Antabuse for alcohol dependence are also recommended to see a professional counselor or addiction specialist. Often, prescribed medications and office visits are at least partially covered by health insurance. Visiting the insurers website or calling the number on the back of the insurance card is a good way to get detailed information about the cost of covered services and medications.
How To Find Aversion Therapy
Where to begin your search for aversion therapy greatly depends on the type of aversion therapy you are seeking, and the particular issue being addressed. Those who are seeking aversion therapy for health-related issues like weight loss or even smoking cessation can sometimes set up an appointment with their primary care doctor. Those who are looking for aversion therapy for addiction or compulsive gambling should search for an addiction counselor.
Many people begin their search for an addiction counselor by doing a google search or by using an online directory. Those with health insurance can often save money by selecting an in-network therapist. Reaching out to the insurance company or using their online portal can help identify a list of in-network therapists. Those who need addiction treatment should look for providers with secondary licenses or credentials to prove they are experienced in treating addiction.
Because aversion therapy is not very common, it may be difficult to find a counselor who specializes in this approach. There is not a formal designation or credential for aversion therapists, but calling around can sometimes lead to finding a counselor with specialized training in this area. Because of their education and training, most professional counselors are not able to prescribe medication, so those interested in pharmacological treatments should find a doctor or other prescribing professional.
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What to Expect At Your First Appointment
Those who begin aversion therapy with a licensed counselor can expect to spend 60-90 minutes completing a detailed intake and assessment. During this appointment, clients are asked to fill out paperwork and are also asked a number of questions designed to help determine a clinical diagnosis. At the end of the appointment, the counselor will review the diagnosis and discuss options for further treatment.
If the first appointment is with a prescribing professional (like a doctor, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner), the first appointment will involve a less formal discussion of the issue. Those seeking pharmacological aversion therapy can expect for the practitioner to provide detailed information about the medication, purpose, and potential side effects.
When any medication is prescribed, a follow-up appointment is usually scheduled to determine whether the medication is having the desired effects after 2-6 weeks. If a person has adverse reactions or side effects prior to their follow-up, they are recommended to contact the doctor for advice on whether to continue the medication.
Is Aversion Therapy Effective?
Certain types of aversion therapy have more research to support their efficacy. Much of the research on aversion therapy is outdated, and was conducted when standards for research were less rigorous.
More current research on aversion therapy has proven it can be effective in treating the following issues:1,2,5,6,7,9,10,11
- Addictions to alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamines
- Obesity and weight loss (Orlistat)
- Self-harming behaviors (i.e. cutting)
- Nail biting
- Compulsive gambling
Brain imaging studies have provided evidence that counterconditioning does interrupt reward activity, suggesting that it can be effective in counteracting addiction pathways in the brain.6 It is also well documented that aversion therapy can reduce cravings but what is less clear is whether these results are lasting, as research on the topic has been mixed.2,11 Many of the medications used in aversion therapy will not have lasting impact. So if a patient decides to stop taking the prescription there will no longer be the negative “consequences” to the behavior being addressed.
Insufficient research exists on the use of aversion therapy for the following issues:1,8
- Excoriation disorder (skin picking)
- Trichotillomania (hair pulling)
- Sexually compulsive behaviors (pedophilia, exhibitionism)
- Smoking cessation (specifically aversive smoking which involves rapid chain smoking)
- Compulsive gambling
History of Aversion Therapy
The use of aversion therapy became prevalent in the 50’s and 60’s, building upon the work of behaviorists like Pavlov (Keller). It was used to treat drug and alcohol addictions, behavioral problems, and sexual perversion. At this time electrical aversion therapy was the most widely used, but emetics (medication that induce vomiting) were also sometimes used.
In the early years, aversion therapy was used in ways that were unethical and inhumane. For example, aversion therapy was often administered without a patient’s consent. Electrical shock treatments were much more rudimentary and could result in painful and dangerous electrocution. Aversion therapy was also inappropriately used to “cure” homosexuality, which was considered a disorder at that time.8
As controversy and criticism grew in the 70’s, aversion therapy became less common. Contemporary aversion therapy began to reemerge in the late 90’s but never gained the same popularity it had before. The most common forms of aversion therapy utilized today are pharmacological treatments for addiction and obesity.1
Controversy & Criticism of Aversion Therapy
Today, there are many ethical codes, laws, and safeguards that protect people seeking treatment for a physical or psychological problem. Unfortunately, this was not always the case. Much of the controversy surrounding aversion therapy stemmed from experimental psychological treatments done in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. At this time, electric shock treatment was the most commonly used technique, and unlike modern methods of electrical treatment, was painful and inhumane. 8
Because of the controversy surrounding these techniques, aversion therapy was rarely used between the years of 1980-2000, and has only recently reemerged as a viable treatment option for addiction, lifestyle, and behavioral disorders. Still, some continue to raise ethical concerns about certain aversion techniques like the use of electrical shocks. There is also some research which suggests that counterconditioning in aversion therapy provides only short-term results as opposed to the more lasting results seen in other types of treatment.11
It should be pointed out that shock treatments for aversion therapy are different than elecroconvulsive therapy, which is still used for cases of treatment resistant depression.
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For Further Reading
- Mental Health America
- National Alliance on Mental Health
Choosing Therapy strives to provide our readers with mental health content that is accurate and actionable. We have high standards for what can be cited within our articles. Acceptable sources include government agencies, universities and colleges, scholarly journals, industry and professional associations, and other high-integrity sources of mental health journalism. Learn more by reviewing our full editorial policy.
Arlinghaus, K. R., Foreyt, J. P., & Johnston, C. A. (2016). The Issue of Aversion in Lifestyle Treatments. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 11(2), 119–121. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827616680554
Didden, R. (2007). Functional Analysis Methodology in Developmental Disabilities In P. Sturmey (Ed.) Practical Resources for the Mental Health Professional (pp 65-86). Academic Press.
Elkins, R. L., Richards, T. L., Nielsen, R., Repass, R., Stahlbrandt, H., & Hoffman, H. G. (2017). The Neurobiological Mechanism of Chemical Aversion (Emetic) Therapy for Alcohol Use Disorder: An fMRI Study. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 11, 182.
Food and Drug Administration. Xenical drug facts. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/020766s026lbl.pdf
Fong T. W. (2005). Types of psychotherapy for pathological gamblers. Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township)), 2/i>(5), 32–39.
Kaag, A. M., Schluter, R. S., Karel, P., Homberg, J., van den Brink, W., Reneman, L., & van Wingen, G. A. (2016). Aversive Counterconditioning Attenuates Reward Signaling in the Ventral Striatum. Frontiers in human neuroscience,10https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2016.00418
Keller, N. E., Hennings, A. C., Dunsmoor, J. E. (2020). Behavioral and neural processes in counterconditioning: Past and future directions. Behav Res Ther. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2019.103532
Science Direct. Aversion Therapy. Retreived from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/aversion-therapy.
Skinner, M. D., Lahmek, P., Pham, H. & Aubin, H. J. (2014). Disulfram Efficacy in the Treatment of Alcohol Dependence: A Meta-analysis.PLoS One, 9(2). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087366 https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0087366
Silber KP, Haynes CE. Treating nailbiting: a comparative analysis of mild aversion and competing response therapies. Behav Res Ther. 1992;30(1):15-22. doi:10.1016/0005-7967(92)90091-t
Tunstall, B. J., Verendeev, A., and Kearns, D. N. (2012). A comparison of therapies for the treatment of drug cues: counterconditioning vs. extinction in male rats.Exp. Clin. Psychopharmacol.20, 447–453. doi: 10.1037/a0030593
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Anti-Aversion Therapy: What It Is, Effectiveness, Controversy, and More
Anti-Aversion Therapy, sometimes called aversive therapy or aversive conditioning, is used to get a person to give up behaviors or habits by associating them with something unpleasant.
Aversion therapy is best known for treating people with addictive behaviors such as alcohol disorders. Most research has focused on its benefits associated with substance use.
This type of therapy is controversial and research is mixed. Anti-disgust therapy is not often the first line treatment, and other treatments are preferred.
The duration of therapy has also been criticized because relapse may occur outside of therapy.
How does aversion therapy work?
Repulsion Therapy is based on the theory of classical conditioning. Classical conditioning is when you unconsciously or automatically learn a behavior due to certain stimuli. In other words, learn to respond to something based on repeated interactions with it.
Aversion therapy uses conditioning but focuses on creating a negative response to an unwanted stimulus, such as alcohol or drug use.
In many cases, in people with substance use disorders, the body gets used to enjoying the substance—for example, it tastes good and makes you feel good. The idea behind aversion therapy is to change that.
The exact way in which aversion therapy is administered depends on the unwanted behavior or habit with which it is treated. One of the most commonly used aversive therapies is chemical aversion due to alcohol use disorders. The goal is to reduce a person's craving for alcohol with chemically induced nausea.
For an aversion to chemicals, the doctor gives a medicine that causes nausea or vomiting if the person being treated drinks alcohol. They then give them alcohol to make the person sick. This is repeated until the person begins to drink alcohol with poor health and thus no longer has cravings for alcohol.
Other methods used for aversion therapy include:
- electric shock
- other form of physical shock, such as rubber band cracking
- bad smell or taste
- negative images (sometimes through visualization)
Is it possible to refuse aversion therapy at home?
Conventional anti-version therapy is carried out under the supervision of a psychologist or other psychotherapist. However, at home, you can use the aversion to simple bad habits, such as biting your nails.
To do this, you can apply a clear coat of nail polish on your nails, which will taste bad when you bite into them.
Who is the therapy for?
Anti-disgust therapy is said to be useful for people who want to get rid of a behavior or habit that normally disrupts their lives in a negative way.
Although many studies have been done on the treatment of alcohol aversion and alcohol use disorder, other therapies include:
- other substance use disorders
- Eating disorders
- oral habits such as nail biting
- self-harm and aggressive behavior
- certain inappropriate sexual behaviors such as voyeuristic disorder
Research on these applications is mixed. Some of them, such as lifestyle, have generally proven to be ineffective. More promises of addiction have been found when chemical aversion is used.
How effective is it?
Several studies have shown that aversion therapy is effective in treating alcohol use disorders.
A recent study found that participants who experienced alcohol cravings prior to therapy reported alcohol withdrawal 30 and 90 days after treatment.
However, research on the effectiveness of anti-abversion therapy is still mixed. While many studies have shown promising short-term results, long-term effectiveness is questionable.
Although the above study showed that 69 participants reported sobriety one year after treatment, a longer-term study would help determine if sobriety continued before that first year.
In some of the most comprehensive research on aversion therapy in the 1950s, researchers noted a decline in abstinence over time. After 1 year, 60% were alcohol-free, but only 51% after 2 years, 38% after 5 years, and 23% after 10 years or more.
The lack of long-term benefit is believed to be due to the fact that most anti-aversion therapies are done locally. When you're out of the office, disgust is harder to maintain.
Although alcohol aversion therapy is effective in the short term, results for other targets are mixed.
Most studies have found that aversion therapy did not help quit smoking, especially if the therapy included rapid smoking. For example, a person is asked to smoke an entire pack of cigarettes in a very short time until they become ill.
Aversion therapy has also been considered a treatment for obesity, but it is extremely difficult to generalize to all foods and stay away from therapy.
Controversy and criticism
Anti-aversion therapy has backfired in the past for several reasons.
Some experts believe that the use of negative stimuli in the treatment of aversion amounts to the use of punishment as a form of therapy, which is unethical.
Before the American Psychiatric Association (APA) assessed this as a violation of ethical standards, some researchers used aversion therapy to "cure" homosexuality.
Prior to 1973, homosexuality was considered a mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Some medical experts believed that it could be "cured". A gay person could be jailed or potentially forced to undergo an aversion therapy program in order to reveal their sexuality.
Some have voluntarily sought some form of psychiatric therapy for homosexuality. Often this was associated with shame and guilt, as well as social stigma and discrimination. However, the evidence turned out to be that this "treatment" was both ineffective and harmful.
After the APA ruled out homosexuality as a disorder due to lack of scientific evidence, most research into the treatment of aversion to homosexuality was halted. However, this harmful and unethical use of anti-abversion therapy has left a bad reputation.
Other treatment options
Aversion therapy can help stop certain types of unwanted behaviors or habits. However, experts believe that even if it is used, it should not be used alone.
Aversion therapy is a type of contraindicated treatment. The second is called exposure therapy, which works by exposing the person to what they fear. Sometimes these two treatments can be combined for better results.
Therapists may also recommend other behavioral therapies in addition to or as part of outpatient drug use disorder rehabilitation programs. Many people who come into contact with drug support networks can also help you follow their recovery.
Medications may be prescribed in some cases, including smoking cessation, mental health and obesity.
Repulsion Therapy aims to help people get rid of unwanted behaviors or habits. Research is mixed on its use, and many physicians may not recommend it due to criticism and controversy.
You and your healthcare provider can discuss the right treatment plan for you, whether or not it includes aversion therapy. Often, a combination of therapies, including talking therapy and medication, can help you manage your anxiety.
If you have a substance use disorder or suspect you may be addicted, see your doctor. If you don't know where to start, you can call the CAMSA National Helpline: 800-662-4357.
Sexual aversion disorders, types of sexual aversion: causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment
In established couples, there are often situations when one of the partners feels, if not disgust, then indifference to the sexual side of life together. At the same time, on an emotional level, relationships remain trusting and close. The lack of a full-fledged sexual life affects the relationship of partners - in particular, a man in such a situation feels unattractive, inferior, while a woman closes in herself, suspects a man of infidelity.
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In successful couples, there are often situations when one of the partners experiences, if not disgust, then indifference to the sexual side of life together. At the same time, on an emotional level, relationships remain trusting and close. The lack of a full-fledged sexual life affects the relationship of partners - in particular, a man in such a situation feels unattractive, inferior, while a woman closes in herself, suspects a man of infidelity. Changes will also occur at the physiological level - stagnation of blood in the pelvis and prostate leads to the development of severe pathologies. In addition, at the psychological level, there is nervousness, hysteria, depression, emotional coldness. Sexual aversion disorders are also called sexual aversion. If the problem is ignored, then as a result the situation will only worsen, and the couple will quickly come to parting.
This term refers to a negative attitude towards sexual life, aversion to one's partner. In particular, the upcoming sexual relationship with a partner causes fear, increased anxiety, and actually makes a person shy away from sexual intercourse. In terms of meaning, aversion is opposed to libido - sexual desire and desire. It is noteworthy that sexual aversion has different degrees of severity - it can be just discomfort, or it can be a real phobia that activates immediately before sexual intimacy. In differential diagnosis, it is important to distinguish sexual aversion from coitophobia, the suppression of sexual desire. It is also necessary to understand that over time, in any partnership, passion fades, the dynamics of attraction declines, a phase of erotic indifference sets in, when the partners cease to excite each other, they have no desire to have sexual intercourse with each other. This is a natural phenomenon that is formed due to emotional and physical changes as a result of the joint residence of the spouses. Only in a small proportion of couples such a phenomenon is observed in old age. Often, couples are not aware of the problem, considering it a natural manifestation of family life. Sexual aversion occurs in both sexes - men and women. In the fair sex, it occurs 10 times more often. As a result of this state, the psychological state also changes - self-doubt arises, various complexes are formed.
Causes of sexual aversion disorders
Disorders of this spectrum are usually not related to the couple's age or length of time they have lived together. There is no connection with bodily pathologies that could affect the quality of sexual life.
- According to experts, the following causes lead to sexual aversion disorders:
- Consequences of other disorders. We are talking about sexual disorders that in the past were not treated and ignored. For example, the absence of an orgasm in a woman leads to indifference and even aversion to sexual activity. In some cases, the development of sexual aversion in a woman can lead to regular premature ejaculation of a man.
- Neurotic disorders. In particular, in women it is PTSD, in men it is neurasthenia.
- Manifestations of personality accentuation.
- Primitive sexual motivation. For example, men are characterized by genital, template-regulated types of motivation, while women are characterized by a game type. It occurs in more than 50% of cases.
- Mismatch of psychosexual types. In particular, a man plays the role of a son, a woman plays the role of a daughter.
- Disturbed sex-role behavior. In particular, when a woman takes on the behavior of a man, and vice versa. Interestingly, this is the most common cause of sexual aversion. Features often when a man plays a passive role.
- Long-standing conflicts in a couple. If a couple suppresses their negative feelings and emotions towards each other, then interest in intimacy will fade until it leads to complete indifference. In the future, sexual intercourse becomes more and more difficult, more unpleasant for both.
- Unacceptable forms of sexual contact. In particular, if one of the partners offers threesomes, anal sex and other non-standard ways of sexual activity, the woman may develop an aversion to him.
- Unacceptable partner behavior. In particular, if a man cheated, got another woman, carelessly treats his personal hygiene - this can cause rejection, turning into sexual disgust.
- Primitive sexual culture. In this case, we are talking about improper parenting and the lack of sexual education - for example, if one of the partners grew up in an extremely religious, dysfunctional family, he was brought up by people of puritanical views.
Types of sexual aversion
According to the classification, sexual aversion disorder is divided into primary and secondary.
- The primary species is characterized by a negative attitude towards everything related to sexual life - such behavior was typical in early adolescence, adolescence and at the present time.
- The secondary species is characterized by the avoidance of sexual life, despite the fact that in the past it was a pleasure and a pleasant pastime.
Diagnosis of disorders of sexual aversion
Sexual aversion can manifest itself in different ways - some patients experience only mild discomfort and irritation from touch, others strongly feel disgust for the upcoming sexual contact and for their partner. This makes one avoid sexual life, ignore the desires of a partner. Disgust develops gradually. In total, experts distinguish 3 phases:
- Short-term period. He rolls in fits. In a couple, regular sexual intercourse is observed, which does not bring satisfaction. They are carried out out of a sense of duty, sexual activity is reduced, foreplay is practically absent. A man does not suffer from erectile dysfunction, ejaculation proceeds normally, while a woman has a dulling of sexual desire, hypoorgasmia occurs. Psychosexual satisfaction does not occur.
- Prolonged reactions of sexual aversion disorders. The patient does not desire sexual intimacy and refuses it at every opportunity. Sex life is not satisfying. In men, alibidemia develops here, that is, they have no sexual desire, selective hypoerection, in women - anorgasmia. Such violations occur at the first stage only with a certain partner.
- Negativity about the sexual side of life. Partners unanimously refuse sex. Alibidemia, anorgasmia persist even when changing sexual partners.
Treatment of sexual aversion disorders
Such disorders do not go away on their own, they only get worse over time and are aggravated by psychological problems. Accordingly, the help of specialists is needed. In particular, an effective psychotherapeutic correction is used, which is developed jointly by psychotherapists and sexologists. An anamnesis is preliminarily collected - the causes, the duration of the problem, early psychological trauma, the current state of sexual life are clarified. Ideally, both partners should be treated. If psychological disorders have developed against the background of sexual aversion, additional psychotherapy is prescribed - these can be sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy, antidepressant treatment, correction and other treatment methods.