Letter From "Bob," A Client Who Has Undergone Treatment in the Sexual Abuse Clinic
I didn’t have a clue as to what I would be put through in “sex offender treatment”. Visions of painful electrodes attached to sensitive areas and other forms of torture awaited me, of that I was sure. However, I had made up my mind that I would do anything to free myself from the personal hell that I had created through my deviant sexual behavior. The fear of the unknown was not going to stop me. It was important to me that I face my fears and fight to stop the cycle of my offending behavior.
Soon after beginning treatment, my therapist started conditioning therapy as a means to help me break out of my cycle of associating deviant fantasy with feelings of pleasure. The basic idea is to replace “pleasurable” feelings from improper sexual stimulation with “negative” feelings. This would give me a tool that I could use to stop my uncontrolled progression from deviant sexual fantasy to the acting-out phase. Much to my relief, I learned that there would be no electrodes. However, at the beginning, the procedure did seem somewhat bizarre.
I listened to a short story that fit my deviant sexual fantasies. During the story, I would watch vignettes designed to be unpleasant to see or make me feel uncomfortable. Being arrested, being in prison, or hearing about the personal pain of sexual abuse from a victim were some of the vignettes that had more of an impact on me.
At first, the deviant stories were easy to listen to and they triggered my own fantasies and arousal. To help build a new response to the deviant stimulation, I countered my normal inappropriate response with additional negative stimulation along with watching the vignettes. At the beginning of a session, I chewed a harmless but bitter-tasting pill. Also, I countered my feelings of arousal during the session with a foul odor. This had the immediate effect of stopping my feelings of pleasure from listening to the deviant fantasy.
As the sessions progressed, the moment I felt pleasure or started fantasizing, I smelled the foul odor and thought about the bitter taste in my mouth, and gradually the intensity and duration of my deviant arousal became less. Eventually the fantasy was no longer pleasurable and the pictures I liked to look at weren’t triggering my fantasies. The association between inappropriate stimulation and deviant fantasy had been interrupted by my memories of the unpleasant aspects of the sessions. I have become aware that when I see someone that fits my victim profile, instead of automatically going into the fantasy phase of my cycle, I instead remember the taste of the bitter pill, the foul odor of rotten meat, and see parts of the vignettes playing in my head.
I’m continuing with the therapy today because it works for me. Being able to stop my deviant fantasies gives me a feeling of self-control that I didn’t have before. I know that breaking the cycle of my abusive behavior is the key to living a better life and, most of all, not hurting any more innocent victims. Simple behavior modification is all it is. No electrodes are necessary, but I must be willing to experience some short-term discomfort for long-term happiness. For me, it’s worth it!
Please feel free to contact us for a free initial appointment to see if our therapists are the right match for your problems. (Note: This does not apply to individual evaluations or testing for professionally-referred cases).
Sexual Abuse Clinic sponsors free annual workshops for related
professionals focusing on the assessment and treatment of sexual
offenders. We are happy to provide education, training and consultation
to your organization or group as requested.