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Aversion therapy machine, England, 1950-1980

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Aversion therapy is a form of psychological conditioning. The theory is the mind can be conditioned to respond a certain way by creating negative associations with ‘unacceptable’ behavioural patterns. These patterns include addiction or phobias. Homosexuality was officially a psychiatric illness until 1974. This home-made device was supposedly used to ‘treat’ homosexuals at a psychiatric hospital in Brighton. Aversion therapy exposes the patient to stimuli. These include pornography or the smell or taste of drugs and alcohol. At the same time, electric shocks of various strengths and durations are administered to the patient’s fingers or hands. This builds a negative association with these stimuli over time and ‘cures’ the patient. Homosexual activists (including psychiatrists) in the 1970s protested they did not need to be ‘cured’. The psychiatric community eventually listened, ensuring devices like this were never mass-produced

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