The Electric Cattle Prod Treatment

March 30, 2007

Apparently spanking isn’t effective enough.


Bradley Bernstein’s parents say an electric cattle prod is the only thing that stops him from banging his head and violently punching his eyes, nearly blinding himself.

The Illinois couple’s fight to continue shock treatment on their severely autistic 48-year-old son and the uproar over a Massachusetts school that uses similar treatment, have pulled back the curtain on this extreme form of behavior modification. Critics call it outmoded, barbaric and unethical.


The school is under legislative and regulatory scrutiny for routinely using skin shocks on about half its 230 students to stop serious behavior problems, including self-injury.

Electric shocks and other painful or unpleasant treatments known as “aversive conditioning” were accepted more a generation ago. But mainstream psychiatry relies on new drugs and other methods that have proven effective.

Hmm… taking a pill or getting shocked with an electric cattle prod? Which would you choose?

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