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Behaviour therapy for paedophilia

Behaviour therapy for paedophilia Both aversion therapy and masturbatory reconditioning methods have been used in the treatment of paedophilia. In aversion therapy, an inappropriate sexual stimulus is paired with an aversive event such as mild electric shock or strong aversive odour. This process is thought to condition a negative emotional state to the presence of the sexual stimulus. Most studies show some reduction of arousal to stimuli of young children.

However, this may not result in reductions in offences. Rice et al. , for example, followed 136 non-familial child molesters, 50 of whom received aversion therapy, following their discharge from a maximum security prison. Over a period of about six years, 31 per cent were convicted of a new offence. Recidivism rates were no lower among those who received aversion therapy than those who did not. Masturbatory reconditioning involves the individual initiating a sexual response through the use of their favoured sexual images. Once they have achieved an erection, they switch to more appropriate images, such as a naked woman or man. They continue to masturbate to orgasm, when they concentrate deeply on this image. This approach may be combined with a graded series of ‘normal’ images, from less to more typical of the desired sexual focus. This approach has a number of advantages over aversion therapy. First, it is less ethically challenging and more acceptable to potential recipients. Second, it does not involve laboratory equipment and can be practised between therapy sessions. There is little empirical evidence of its effects and it is considered to be relatively ineffective and is now little used.

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