opponent-process theory: a theory proposed by Richard Solomon (1973, 1980) to augment traditional stimulus-response learning theory, according to which powerful aversion or attraction to a particular activity or experience undergoes reversal, as for example, pain reversing into pleasure, tragedy into triumph, terror into euphoria, or the proscribed into the prescribed. Opponent-process theory explains addictions to opioids, alcohol, other drugs, and to the positive and negative affective states of love, fear and anxiety, and behaviors such as exercise and combat of a war or sporting event. The theory explains, in part, the development of the paraphilias and sexuoerotic participation in sadomasochism.

Dictionary of Sexology Project: Main Index