Lesbian and bisexual women’s experiences of aversion therapy in England

Spandler, Helen orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0970-5141 and Carr, Sarah (2022) Lesbian and bisexual women’s experiences of aversion therapy in England. History of the Human Sciences . ISSN 0952-6951

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1177/09526951211059422


This article presents the findings of a study about the history of aversion therapy as a therapeutic technique in the English mental health system to convert lesbians and bisexual women into heterosexual women. We explored published psychiatric and psychological literature, as well as lesbian, gay and bisexual archives and anthologies. We identified ten examples of young women receiving aversion therapy in England in the 1960’s and 1970’s. We situate our discussion within the context of post-war British and transnational medical history. As a significantly under-researched area, this article contributes to a broader transnational history of the psychological treatment of marginalised sexualities and genders. As such it also contributes to LGBTQIA+ history, the history of medicine, and psychiatric survivor history. We also reflect on the ethical implications of the research for current mental health practice.

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