Extreme Operant Conditioning - Aversive Therapy

Dr. Matthew Israel, Director of the Judge Rotenberg Center, has a different method of teaching. He deals with problem chidren with a variety of issues, many needed some sort of behavior modification. The specific therapy that he uses with about half of his students is shock therapy. Students are hooked up to a backpack from different points of their body, and when their aggressive behavior emerges, a buzzer sounds and they are shocked as a consequence to their actions. The doctor's belief is that this is helping the students learn that aggressive, violent behavior is not tolerated, and eventually they begin to act differently to avoid the shock. His beliefs are based on work that he did with B.F. Skinner.

Many protest this, feeling that it is inhumane and unethical, to the point where the UN has stepped in debating whether or not this is a form of torture. Many parents back the Center up, claiming that their children have benefited from this type of treatment. I personally feel that this crosses a line and that behavior can be modified in ways that are not painful to the child.

**The clip doesn't seem to be working. You can watch the entire report on Nightline at this link


The title of the piece is "Treatment or Torture"


  1. All I can say in regards to that video is that there has got to be a better way to handle such situations. I cannot believe that this is even ethically allowed!

  2. This is so un ethical. People fight for animal cruelity so neither them or humans have to endure such pain and here people are harming children for bad behaviors. They just need to be better parents.


Post a Comment