We all have bad habits we're trying to break whether it's overeating, drinking, smoking or nail biting. Now you can add another method for breaking that bad habit to the pile. A new wearable device called the Pavlok claims it can quickly "delete your temptation," with just a few well-executed zaps of electricity.
For $199 you can fit the behavior change wearable on your wrist and shock yourself with between 50 and 450 volts. New York Times writer Jennifer Jolly tested it out and said, "Set on high, it hurts. A lot." If you're not into the whole masochism thing, it has multiple sensation settings like vibrations and beeps.
Pavlok was created by Maneesh Sethi, an entrepreneur known for selling "cheat codes for life." His company claims that Pavlok takes at least five days to blast your bad habit out of you. After raising $283,827 on IndieGoGo, Sethi secured further funding from angel investors. It's worth noting that Pavlok hasn't gone through clinical trials yet, despite a reported 10,000 people having already used it.
While Pavlok cleverly sounds like it's based on the research of Ivan Pavlov, it isn't like the classical conditioning that the Russian scientist used to get his dogs to salivate when he rang a bell. It's more like aversion therapy, where you learn to associate discomfort with an undesirable behavior. Think "Clockwork Orange," where Alex is given nauseating drugs so he associates violence with pain and sickness.
Aversion therapy has really been used to treat alcoholism and smoking addiction. The South African military also employed the technique to try to "cure" people of homosexuality. It absolutely didn't work.
But some hospitals report success with this method in treating addictions. Still, aversion therapy's long-term success is questionable, and it's criticized as abuse of patients. So until Pavlok has been researched and regulated, we won't know if it's any better than snapping a rubber band on your wrist. Instead, doctors recommend long-term therapeutic options. But hey, you can't wear a 12-step program on your wrist!