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The Bristol Psychotherapy

& Hypnotherapy Clinic

the secret psychology of smoking

 

 

Did you know that nicotine is considered by many people to be one of the most - if not the most - addictive substances known to Man? In fact, many heroin addicts attest to this belief. Why is it then that many people all over the world, myself included - a smoker of over 15 years, manage to stop smoking by themselves without the aid of any nicotine replacement strategies, and without excruciating withdrawal symptoms? If nicotine is as addictive as people seem to believe then this surely shouldn’t happen…but it does. (On my Stop Smoking page you'll see that, like most people, I had enormous difficulty quitting smoking up until I changed my beliefs about it.)

 

 

Recently I had the pleasure of spending sometime doing research in the King's College Hospital library in London. While perusing the heavily populated shelves of the psychiatry section I came across an interesting book called 7 Tools to Beat Addiction by a chap by the name of Stanton Peele Ph.D. who is adjunct professor at the New York University School of Social Work and a senior fellow at the Drug Policy Alliance. In his book he describes how in Britain and America - where there is a predominantly biological view of addiction - addiction related problems continue to rise. He describes how in contrast, "the Swiss government conducted a public information campaign to inform smokers and heroin addicts that the idea of addiction as [an inevitable] lifetime burden is a myth. Posters were displayed around the country with the message that most drug users succeed in quitting their habit." In Switzerland drug addiction problems are now in decline. It's not that the biological model is wrong but that it represents only one side of the mind/body relationship.

 

 

The Swiss evidence, and my own experience, begs the question: could there be a degree of psychosomaticism taking place in smoking addiction? As a professional hypnotherapist who also uses cognitive behavioural strategies in my work I’m intimately aware of both the peculiar power of suggestion and the all-encompassing power of belief. When auto-suggestion takes place, particularly within the context of a pervasive or socially accepted belief, the mind is capable of producing any number of extraordinary side-effects. Modern neuroscience is showing that these suggested beliefs have an observable effect on the brain. For many years surgeons have been familiar with the use of hypnosis and suggestion as an alternative to anaesthetic. Known as hypnoanalgesia, this particular form of hypnotherapy is useful in cases where the patient is required to be awake during an operation. The fact of the matter is that what we believe is of equal importance or significance to what is actually real * – in other words, your subjective belief about things has just as much effect on your experience as does objective reality. This is the very essence of all psychosomatic phenomena.

 

 

In a 2007 episode of Skeptoid, a science-based critical analysis podcast hosted by Brian Dunning, Brian discusses the evidence - or lack of - relating to something known as electro-magnetic hypersensitivity, a condition in which sufferers report side effects of "electro magnetic radiation put out by computers, wireless data networks, cell phone networks, radio and television broadcasting, power lines, and virtually anything that uses electricity". The article closes with a pertinent experience related by a viewer:

 

 

"We had an interesting incident near Humboldt State University. A new cell tower went up and the local newspaper asked a number of people what they thought of it. Some said they noticed their cell phone reception was better. Some said they noticed the tower was affecting their health. To paraphrase the bottom line: "think about how much more pronounced these effects will be once the tower is actually operational."

 

 

It is vital, before we embark on any endeavour, to question our beliefs and what they mean to us, for beliefs are just as potent as reality itself, if not more so.

 

 

Could smoking addiction be a form of mass hysteria, nothing more than a social illusion? This question has been asked many times by many sources and it invariably provokes strong reactions in many people. My personal belief is that while there may indeed be a genuinely addictive component to smoking, most smokers develop a disproportionate and delusional belief about the severity of their addiction and that is where the true trap lies. As I say, that is my belief. Remember however that it is also the belief of someone who stopped smoking easily.

 

 

*Especially when a highly suggestive state has been cultivated before hand either by a standard hypnotic induction or by socially accepted norms. I recall many years ago (unfortunately I forget where but I'd appreciate if anyone can point me to the correct journals) witnessing studies done into the suggestibility of people in relation to external social pressures and social conventions. In one such study a group of people waited for an elevator – all were actors bar one individual who was to be the test subject – upon entering the lift door all the actors continued to face the back of the lift despite there being no door there. Inevitably the test subject followed everyone else’s lead. When the lift reached its destination all of the actors turned around and walked out of the actual lift door, much to the bemusement of the test subject.

 

 

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Sebastian Eastwood is a psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, and counsellor in full-time private practice in Bristol, UK.

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© SEBASTIAN T. EASTWOOD-BLOOM 2018

The Bristol Psychotherapy

& Hypnotherapy Clinic

Home          Symptoms         Treatments         Reviews          About Seb          Fees          Location          Contact 

Sebastian Eastwood is a psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, and counsellor in full-time private practice in Bristol, UK.

The Bristol Psychotherapy

& Hypnotherapy Clinic

Sebastian Eastwood is a psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, and counsellor in full-time private practice in Bristol, UK.

Sebastian Eastwood is a psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, and counsellor in full-time private practice in Bristol, UK.

© SEBASTIAN T. EASTWOOD-BLOOM 2018

Sebastian Eastwood is a psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, and counsellor in full-time private practice in Bristol, UK.

the secret psychology of smoking

 

 

Did you know that nicotine is considered by many people to be one of the most - if not the most - addictive substances known to Man? In fact, many heroin addicts attest to this belief. Why is it then that many people all over the world, myself included - a smoker of over 15 years, manage to stop smoking by themselves without the aid of any nicotine replacement strategies, and without excruciating withdrawal symptoms? If nicotine is as addictive as people seem to believe then this surely shouldn’t happen…but it does. (On my Stop Smoking page you'll see that, like most people, I had enormous difficulty quitting smoking up until I changed my beliefs about it.)

 

 

Recently I had the pleasure of spending sometime doing research in the King's College Hospital library in London. While perusing the heavily populated shelves of the psychiatry section I came across an interesting book called 7 Tools to Beat Addiction by a chap by the name of Stanton Peele Ph.D. who is adjunct professor at the New York University School of Social Work and a senior fellow at the Drug Policy Alliance. In his book he describes how in Britain and America - where there is a predominantly biological view of addiction - addiction related problems continue to rise. He describes how in contrast, "the Swiss government conducted a public information campaign to inform smokers and heroin addicts that the idea of addiction as [an inevitable] lifetime burden is a myth. Posters were displayed around the country with the message that most drug users succeed in quitting their habit." In Switzerland drug addiction problems are now in decline. It's not that the biological model is wrong but that it represents only one side of the mind/body relationship.

 

 

The Swiss evidence, and my own experience, begs the question: could there be a degree of psychosomaticism taking place in smoking addiction? As a professional hypnotherapist who also uses cognitive behavioural strategies in my work I’m intimately aware of both the peculiar power of suggestion and the all-encompassing power of belief. When auto-suggestion takes place, particularly within the context of a pervasive or socially accepted belief, the mind is capable of producing any number of extraordinary side-effects. Modern neuroscience is showing that these suggested beliefs have an observable effect on the brain. For many years surgeons have been familiar with the use of hypnosis and suggestion as an alternative to anaesthetic. Known as hypnoanalgesia, this particular form of hypnotherapy is useful in cases where the patient is required to be awake during an operation. The fact of the matter is that what we believe is of equal importance or significance to what is actually real * – in other words, your subjective belief about things has just as much effect on your experience as does objective reality. This is the very essence of all psychosomatic phenomena.

 

 

In a 2007 episode of Skeptoid, a science-based critical analysis podcast hosted by Brian Dunning, Brian discusses the evidence - or lack of - relating to something known as electro-magnetic hypersensitivity, a condition in which sufferers report side effects of "electro magnetic radiation put out by computers, wireless data networks, cell phone networks, radio and television broadcasting, power lines, and virtually anything that uses electricity". The article closes with a pertinent experience related by a viewer:

 

 

"We had an interesting incident near Humboldt State University. A new cell tower went up and the local newspaper asked a number of people what they thought of it. Some said they noticed their cell phone reception was better. Some said they noticed the tower was affecting their health. To paraphrase the bottom line: "think about how much more pronounced these effects will be once the tower is actually operational."

 

 

It is vital, before we embark on any endeavour, to question our beliefs and what they mean to us, for beliefs are just as potent as reality itself, if not more so.

 

 

Could smoking addiction be a form of mass hysteria, nothing more than a social illusion? This question has been asked many times by many sources and it invariably provokes strong reactions in many people. My personal belief is that while there may indeed be a genuinely addictive component to smoking, most smokers develop a disproportionate and delusional belief about the severity of their addiction and that is where the true trap lies. As I say, that is my belief. Remember however that it is also the belief of someone who stopped smoking easily.

 

 

*Especially when a highly suggestive state has been cultivated before hand either by a standard hypnotic induction or by socially accepted norms. I recall many years ago (unfortunately I forget where but I'd appreciate if anyone can point me to the correct journals) witnessing studies done into the suggestibility of people in relation to external social pressures and social conventions. In one such study a group of people waited for an elevator – all were actors bar one individual who was to be the test subject – upon entering the lift door all the actors continued to face the back of the lift despite there being no door there. Inevitably the test subject followed everyone else’s lead. When the lift reached its destination all of the actors turned around and walked out of the actual lift door, much to the bemusement of the test subject.

 

 

Back to Blog Contents