Aversion therapy for sexual deviation: Contingent shock and covert sensitization

Edward J Callahan, Harold Leitenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Studied 2 different aversion therapy approaches to the treatment of sexual deviation (e.g., homosexuality) in 6 clinical referrals. Covert sensitization, which provides an imagined aversive event following imagined sexual behavior, was compared with contingent shock, which provides a physical aversive event following erection to slides depicting sexually deviant material. Replicated, counterbalanced within-S presentations of each technique were used. Treatment effects were monitored by measurement of penile circumference changes during slides presented prior to treatment sessions, and by daily subjective recording of sexual urges and fantasies as well as masturbation and sexual acts. No clear difference was found between the treatments on the penile circumference measure. On suppression of subjective measures of sexual arousal, however, covert sensitization appeared to be more effective than contingent shock. Follow-up of 4-18 mo. is reported for the individual cases. (37 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-73
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1973
Externally publishedYes


  • contingent shock vs. covert sensitization, sexual deviation therapy, pedophilic homosexual & homosexuals & transvestite-transsexual & exhibitionists

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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