Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment [saj] pp687-sebu-456095 November 23, 2002 14:31 Style ﬁle version June 4th, 2002
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 15, No. 2, April 2003 (
A Brief History of Behavioral and Cognitive
Behavioral Approaches to Sexual Offenders:
Part 1. Early Developments
D. R. Laws
and W. L. Marshall
This is the ﬁrst of two papers which brieﬂy outline the development of behavioral
and cognitivebehavioraltreatment of sexualoffenders from the mid-1800s to 1969.
We ﬁrst consider the historic role of Sigmund Freud and note that a broad scientiﬁc
interest in deviantsexualbehaviorwaswell established by 1900. In the earlytomid-
20th century, two psychologies were prominent in the development of behavioral
approaches, those of John B. Watson and Alfred Kinsey. Behavior therapy for a
variety of problems emerged in the 1950s and soon found application to deviant
sexuality. The development of penile plethysmography helped to focus interest
on deviant sexual preference and behavior. While nonbehavioral approaches to
sexual offenders paralleled these developments, a combination of behavioral and
cognitive behavioral treatments began to emerge in the late 1960s which ultimately
developed into the approaches more commonly seen today.
KEY WORDS: sex offender treatment; historical antecedents; Watson’s behaviorism; Kinsey’s
sexology; behavior therapy.
So much has been written and discussed at conferences over the past 30 years
that it is impossible to do justice to the contributions of everyone in two history
papers. We apologize to those whose names we have omitted. It has been especially
difﬁcult for us to see our own work in an objective way but we have tried not to be
too immodest. We decided not to describe the emergence and subsequent growth
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2003 Plenum Publishing Corporation