When Grandpa Was A Boy, Were There Any Dinosaurs?

“Hug Me”

1965: The psychologist Ivar Løvaas reported success in his efforts to treat autistic behaviour in 5-year-old twin boys using electric shocks. In experiments at the University of California, Los Angeles, one of the boys, Mike or Marty, would be stood barefoot in a room with an electrified floor. A researcher would stand in front of him and beckon him: “Come here.” If the boy didn’t respond within three seconds he would be given a painful electric shock. After just a few sessions, the boys learned to “practically jump into the experimenters’ arms”.

In a similar experiment, an electrical shock device of a type used in canine obedience tests was attached to the boys’ buttocks. A researcher would face Mike or Marty, instruct him to “Hug me” or “Kiss me,” and apply a shock if he failed to react quickly enough. Løvaas noted approvingly that the twins’ behaviour “changed markedly toward increased affection”.

Source: Steve Silberman, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter about People Who Think Differently (2015), pp. 307–10

Share this:

Leave a comment