STEP THREE: Make up a contract for the administration of the
Be very precise about when the punishment will be given, what it
is, and what it is for. See method #16 for an example of a contract.
Don't cop out.
There are two basic methods of aversive conditioning: "punishment
training" and "classical conditioning." Example of punishment training:
Over 35 years ago 5000 alcoholics were given drugs to induce nausea
and vomiting after drinking alcohol. They had a 50% success rate after
6-10 hours of treatment; that's remarkable. Examples of classical
conditioning: pairing electric shock with the sight and smell of a glass
of whisky or shocking a homosexual while he/she is fantasizing some
The learning principles in punishment training are about the same
as learning desired traits by positive reinforcement: administer the
punishment immediately following the unwanted behavior, administer
it full strength and 100% of the time at first (but not so often one gets
"used to it"), and provide support for desired behaviors to replace the
In addition to punishing the unwanted behavior, it may be helpful
to "punish" (pair with something unpleasant) the stimuli and cues that
precede (in the behavior chain) or initiate the unwanted behavior as
well. Example: flip your wrist with a rubber band when you do
anything associated with smoking, e.g. buy a pack of cigarettes, open
the pack, feel the urge to smoke, see an ash tray, feel tense, want a
STEP FOUR: Try the punishment and see the results; encourage
the desired behavior.
In most cases there are behaviors that should be substituted for
the unwanted behavior. They should be learned and practiced and
reinforced before the old behavior is punished. Often the avoidance of
punishment is the negative reinforcement for the desired behavior
(see method #17).
Total time involved=1 to 2 hours. It may take a few minutes each
day to carry out the punishment. But the entire procedure is usually
quick, 1 to 3 weeks, if the punishment is effective.
Common problems with the method
Quitting or just "forgetting" is common. Don't forget, the pain from
self-punishment is punishing your self-help efforts to change just as
much as it is punishing the unwanted behavior. Also, for unknown