Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Electric Shock Therapist Arrested in Canada

Jim Burroway

March 27th, 2010
Dr. Louis Max\'s diagram of his electric shock averson therapy device, as it appeared in March 1935 edition of The Psychological Bulletin

Dr. Louis Max\’s diagram of his electric shock averson therapy device, as it appeared in March 1935 edition of The Psychological Bulletin. (Click to enlarge)

At one time, a relatively common method to try to “cure” gay people was to administer painful electric shock aversion therapy. This barbaric method was first used against gay men in 1935, and it continued, by some reports, up through the 1980’s. NARTH recently issued a report defending reparative and other conversion therapies which cited dozens of papers touting the benefits of aversion therapy.

By the 1980’s, most efforts to “cure” homosexuality using the barbaric and punitive method had largely come to an end. But not everywhere. It was still employed in apartheid South Africa right up until the fall of the regime, and one of the notorious practitioners was Dr. Aubry Levin. He was so famous for his use of electric shock therapy that he was known as “Dr. Shock”:

Among the allegations levelled at Levin was that he used severe electric shocks as part of “aversion therapy” that was supposed to “cure” homosexuals. “Political deviants” who refused to bear arms in the apartheid forces were also referred to Levin, who commanded the major psychiatric wing of the military hospital at Voortrekkerhoogte in Pretoria and rose to become the apartheid government’s head of mental health.

Levin fled South Africa just before its transition to democracy, and settled in Calgary where he became a Canadian citizen. He refused to testify before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission where it was alleged he had been guilty of gross human rights abuses. Once settled in Canada, Levin became an expert witness, performing court-ordered psychiatric assessments of convicted offenders awaiting sentence.

Aubrey Levin being taken into police custody

Aubrey Levin being taken into police custody

This past Tuesday, Levin was arrested and charged with sexual assault by Calgary police after a 36-year-old former patient alleged he was abused while under the doctor’s care. The patient reportedly had made complaints before, but couldn’t get authorities to believe him. The break came when the patient went to an appointment with a hidden camera in order to obtain evidence.

So far, it is unclear how many patients Levin handled under the courts. Police are reviewing current and past cases now, looking for further evidence of abuse. He was suspended by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta the previous Friday when the allegations first surfaced, which means that he can no longer practice in that province.

Levin is listed as a clinical professor in the psychiatry department at the University of Calgary, but the Calgary Herald reports that University officials say he is no longer teaching.

Levin will appear in Provincial Court on April 8.



March 27th, 2010 | LINK

The link to the Calgary Herald article is broken. Here’s a working link:

Tony P
March 27th, 2010 | LINK

Another quality individual. Note the sarcasm in that last statement btw.

When I was younger I figured out how to use a spark gap to excite a transformer. You’d get a nice buzzing bit of current out the other side of the transformer.

The spark gap – I just wired up a relay to oscillate. Current would flow through the coil and pull the armature down and break current flow. The transformer was paralleled to the relay windings. So that really amped up the juice.

Bubba C
March 27th, 2010 | LINK

My Uncle underwent this type of “therapy” in the late ’60s early 70s.
He ended up bipolar &, toward the end of his life, suffered from dementia.

It is my hope, that this “man” gets everything that’s coming to him!!

March 27th, 2010 | LINK

No wonder Ann Coulter feels so at home in Calgary.

Ben in Oakland
March 28th, 2010 | LINK

This story is remarkably short on detail, but it owuld seem we have another “prey away the gay” kinda guy.

pun intentional.

Coenie Kukkuk, Edito
March 28th, 2010 | LINK

We have loads of detail – you can read it here:

Here is the best summary:

Main news site in South Africa:

Reports since 2000:

Activist’s blog:

March 28th, 2010 | LINK

I can’t help but wonder what it was in Dr. Levin’s background that led the University of Calgary to employ him as a professor.

Coenie Kukkuk, Edito
March 28th, 2010 | LINK

He had, on the face of it, a wonderful career in SA. He was head of military psychiatry, and won a honourary doctorate. People didn’t know what he – and the regime – was up to. Remember it was not just him, but the military as well.

March 28th, 2010 | LINK

A few minor points. The news reports indicated this was within the military only. The above article says electroshock was employed within SA right up until the fall of apartheid. I was there during the last years, publishing and editing a gay newspaper. And while electroshock was used previously no incidents were brought to my attention, or mentioned in the publication of my competitors during those last years.

It is hard to date the official end of apartheid. And it is wrong to say it fell—it eroded away. While apartheid was the law the apartment building I lived in, and the neighborhood, was fully integrated. Job reservation laws, previously pushed by the trade unions, were still in place in law but ignored by employers.

Gambling was illegal but there were small casinos all over the place. Porn was illegal but adult shops were open.

I would date the end of apartheid officially with the election of the ANC in 1994. I started my publication in 1990 and during those four years no electroshock was brought to my attention.

However, there is a great satire on apartheid South Africa that does mention by Tom Sharpe, called Indecent Exposure. In the story the police are worried about white policemen fraternizing with black women so they use electroshock therapy to prevent them from being interested in black females. The tactic goes wrong when they only manage to turn the police force gay instead. It is quite hilarious in fiction, even if not a bit funny in real life. Sharpe left SA to avoid prosecution for sedition.

March 29th, 2010 | LINK

I just can’t get some of these Crimes Against Humanity allegations against this doctor out of my head. Have forced (and deliberately botched) sex reassignment surgeries been done on “failures” of exgay programs anywhere else in the world, or was this a specific South African problem. I know that people have been castrated and such, but sex reassignment surgery.

I am surprised that victims are not hunting these people down for retribution. I can’t imagine the pain, anger and rage that would probably consume me, if victimized by this monster as others apparently were in South Africa.

Truely, truely horrible. I hope that one day he does face justice for his horrible crimes.

November 23rd, 2010 | LINK

Im the guy who got the camera watch and caugth this sick “doctor” on tape of what he was doing to me for years. It has been a battle during the assaults and it still is very hard dealing with the aftermath of all of this now too.
Ive been trying everywhere to gt help and support but it has been a challenge.
The trail is going to be vey hard to deal with as well– I do just hope and pray that he does get what he deserves and that all wasnt for nothing.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.