Breaking Bad….Habits

Have you heard of this new device?




This device is called Pavlok and it’s designed to assist in breaking bad habits i.e., biting nails, over eating, and quitting smoking. The device works by delivering a mild shock, beep, or vibrate when you are about to engage in your negative behavior. By delivering this shock the brain will be conditioned and learn to associate the shock with the negative behavior and therefore stop you from having the urge to engage in the negative habit/ behavior. You can either download the application, choose which habit you would like to break, and Pavlok will work with you to keep you on track with your goals; or you can choose to shock/vibrate/beep yourself which of course can be a challenge as it is then in your control!


Dr. Harris Stratyner is a well-known psychiatrist in the greater New York area. He states, “I’m not a big fan, and the reason I’m not a big fan is that I don’t feel that using behavior modification by itself is the best way to bring about change.” He adds that to “correct serious problems, they need to be tackled from their emotional cause. “You’re not really changing how you think, you’re not changing your life,” Stratyner said.


I agree with Dr. Straytner, while this device may assist in making us more aware of our bad habits and prevent us from engaging in these habits, we still need to address the counter productive thoughts that are associated with these bad behaviors.


I think this is device may be helpful with an addition of psychotherapy which treats the sometimes underlying anxiety associated with these negative behaviors. I also think more studies will need to be completed in order to prove the efficacy of the device and what it promises.


For more information on Pavlok, you can check out their website here.

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