Written by The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica...
Aversion Therapy: psychotherapy designed to cause a patient to reduce or avoid an undesirable behaviour pattern by conditioning the person to associate the behaviour with an undesirable stimulus. The chief stimuli used in the therapy are electrical, chemical, or imagined aversive situations. In the electrical therapy, the patient is given a lightly painful shock whenever the undesirable behaviour is displayed. This method has been used in the treatment of sexual deviations. In the chemical therapy, the patient is given a drug that produces unpleasant effects, such as nausea, when combined with the undesirable behaviour; this method has been common in the treatment of alcoholism, in which the therapeutic drug and the alcohol together cause the nausea. In covert conditioning, developed by American psychologist Joseph Cautela, images of undesirable behaviour (e.g., smoking) are paired with images of aversive stimuli (e.g., nausea and vomiting) in a systematic sequence designed to reduce the positive cues that had been associated with the behaviour. (See conditioning.)
Success of Aversion Therapy: Aversion therapy's long-term success in treating patients is questionable; patients may appear to be treated by therapy, but once out of the view of doctors, where the deterrent drugs or electric shocks are removed, they may feel able to return to their addictions or undesirable behavior.
Criticisms of Aversion Therapy: Aversion therapy has endured much criticism in previous decades in its use in abusing patients. At a time when homosexuality was considered by some to be a mental illness, gay people were made to undergo aversion therapy for their lifestyles. A number of fatalities have also occurred during aversion therapy.
As taken from minddisorders.com...
Aversion therapy is a form of behavior therapy in which an aversive (causing a strong feeling of dislike or disgust) stimulus is paired with an undesirable behavior in order to reduce or eliminate that behavior.
As with other behavior therapies, aversion therapy is a treatment grounded in learning theory—one of its basic principles being that all behavior is learned and that undesirable behaviors can be unlearned under the right circumstances. Aversion therapy is an application of the branch of learning theory called classical conditioning.
Now here is my take on Aversion Therapy....
You know those things in life that make you feel anxious? What about the things that make you feel scared and frightened when you see them or experience them? Think back to something that shakes you to your core. Now remember that feeling...where your stomach turns, your blood pressure booms, and your heart feels like it can hop out of your chest...you may even feel like your body is "electrified" during these times.
Taking the above definitions into consideration I would say that the negative experience is your "undesirable behaviour" and the feelings it invokes in you is the "aversive stimulus" like electrical shock or drugs.
Let's look at an example...
Due to my injury I had a fear of walking on grass, I would have a panic attack at the thought of having to walk across a section of grass and would walk out of my way to avoid it. I could stand at the edge, shaking and crying at the fear but I could not make myself walk across the grass. This fear was then generalized to any surface that was not smooth and stationary. I crumbled at the thought of walking across gravel or a construction site. I didn't like how it made me feel and I missed walking on the grass.
The act of walking on grass was anxiety provoking and would cause such a physical response that to avoid such feelings, I would avoid any areas of grass. It was easy actually. I only responded that way when I was faced with the choice of walking on grass and when I actually took the time to consider me walking on such grass. When I avoided grass I was able to avoid those feelings. But there were even times when just the thought of grass could invoke those feelings. To address them I did a little aversion therapy of my own using the grass and my own negative response and behaviour to condition a change.
There are times when our fear is real and there are also times when we have built up that fear to lengths that are just unreal and crippling for us. I can admit it now my fear of grass wasn't real, my fear of falling again was. I had to differentiate between what my true fear was. My fear of grass was unreal...my fear of falling was real.
Now the behaviour I wanted to change was my fear of grass and I used the feelings I experienced to motivate a reconditioned response to the grass. Some might even call this immersion therapy, where you immerse yourself in what it is that invokes such negative responses.
My first step to dealing with my fear of grass was to take off my shoes and walk barefoot in the grass, feeling each step, talking calming to myself during the exercise letting me know that I was safe. Now I am not saying this was easy! It took several attempts to be able to walk with confidence and without fear on the grass. Once I began experiencing more positives...meaning I didn't fall...I eventually took that courage to hills and other places I had avoided because of my fear of falling.
My point in this long winded entry is that whatever you are fearing, whatever makes you feel scared, whatever makes you avoid the things you enjoy...challenge your fears by exposing yourself to your fear. Use the anxiety that makes you feel uncomfortable to motivate you to face the fear so you no longer have to feel uncomfortable because of it and you no longer have to avoid things in your life either.
When you use your negative feelings to motivate positive life changes and choices, you are taking back control of your pain. Pain instills a level of fear that can be crippling if we let it. You can do this! It will take time, patience and care of yourself, but you can do this. Face your fears and kick them in the butt ;) (a lil joke between my daughter and I)
take good care of you ok?