Behavior Modification

Legal Restrictions on Token Economies
  • David B. Wexler
Part of the Perspectives in Law & Psychology book series (PILP, volume 4)


Commentators and authorities have recently directed attention not only to important procedural problems in the administration of therapeutic justice1 but also to the legal issues presented by various methods of institutional therapy. Legal restrictions on a hospital’s right to subject unwilling patients to electroconvulsive therapy2 and psychosurgery3 are developing rapidly, and close scrutiny is also now being given to “aversive” techniques of behavior modification and control4—such as procedures for suppressing transvestism by administering painful electric shocks to the patient while he is dressed in women’s clothing, and procedures for controlling alcoholism or narcotics addiction by arranging medically for severe nausea or even temporary paralysis (including respiratory arrest) to follow ingestion of the habituating substance.5 It is likely that certain treatments may be deemed so offensive, frightening, or risky that the law may eventually preclude them altogether,6 or at least restrict them by requiring the patient’s informed consent.7


Behavior Modification Minimum Wage Supra Note State Hospital Target Behavior 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • David B. Wexler
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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