Aversion therapy; a type of psychological treatment. Designed to correct ‘deviant’ behaviour.
Seen in episode I Am Anne Frank (pt.1), Lana undergoes aversion/conversion therapy in order to ‘cure’ her diagnosis of gynephilia (the attraction to women or femininity). Homosexuality in 1960s America was still seen as wrong and sexual deviation, away from that of the norm and accepted. The therapy given to her by Dr Thredson is based on that which was developed by Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936).
His early experiments proved his theory of classical conditioning of human behaviour, in which he explains that all learning that involves reflexes, such as heart rate, perspiration an muscle tension, are signs of excitement (including fear and sex) any may help to explain unusual and undesirable behaviour, such as phobias and sexual deviation.
The actual aversion therapy…
Pavlov’s therapy was based largely on the act of replacing one bond with another, in this case, replacing inch with nasty. As seen in the show, Lana is hooked up to a drip of an emetic (drugs which inducing vomiting) and exposed to images of naked women- the stimulus. This being the ‘nice’, the emetic is designed to cause Lana (or any patient) associate said stimulus with unpleasant sensations i.e. vomiting. Doctors often used unpleasant tastes or smells also as the aversion sensation. This was, too, reinforced by constant and aggressive mantras.
What was it used for?
It was pretty much used for anything society and medical professions deemed deviant, such as homophobia, nymphomania, voyeurism and the like. Over time, this method of therapy became dated and ethics became a main reason for the cessation of this type of treatment. No to mention the negative side effects, such as increased anxiety and obsession, in addition to the questionable use of punishment in therapy. This method has been used in social context in various other media, such as The Clockwork Orange film.