smokers aren’t stupid, seems a controversial statement that doesn’t it? But ask yourself why? Why is it that society and non-smokers treat people who smoke as if they are stupid? In this day and age, everyone who smokes is aware of the risks, it’s impossible not to be, there are reminders on every cigarette packet, on billboards, T.V, almost everywhere we turn. In society, smokers are ostracised, segregated, labelled and branded, but people still do it.
Ask almost any smoker if, knowing what they know now, they could go back in time, would they still make the same choice to start smoking, and the answer will almost exclusively be an emphatic ‘no’. Smokers are aware, thinking, caring people, not fools and treating them like fools is not the way to help those who want to stop.
We all know that nicotine is addictive, but nicotine is gone from the body within about three days. What creates the problem however, is a simple mixture of psychological principles, simple but powerful. What individual smokers need to be able to create lasting behavioural change, is both an accurate picture of the drivers behind their behaviour, and more importantly, a measure of which of those drivers are the most powerful, and why. It’s science, not rocket science, but science nonetheless.
Threats can work, but often only temporarily, short term need more often than not wins out over the possibility of health gains far off in the future, take something away, and it becomes more desirable than ever. It’s a potent cocktail of sometimes unconscious elements, what is needed is a similarly potent motivation, and more importantly, allowing the ex-smoker to take personal responsibility for the decision.
Sigmund Freud is often regarded as the father of modern psychology, and he described dreams as ‘the royal road to the unconscious’. We are however, a society of instant gratification, of quick fixes, we want it all and we want it now. We don’t want to spend years studying our individual motivations or be involved in uncovering our unconscious drivers. Hypnosis offers us a way to tap into the unconscious mind and often change those behaviour patterns quickly. Hypnosis isn’t new, the ancient Egyptians used ‘sleep temples’ four thousand years ago, and modern hypnosis has developed into a pleasant and natural way to address problems and imbalances of the unconscious mind.
It’s all about changing the way the smoker feels about smoking at the root level, removing the feeling of being deprived, of losing something. It’s even in the language we use, we ‘give up’ smoking, rather than free ourselves of an unwanted behaviour and then rejoice in that freedom. If you’re relying on another form of nicotine, be it e-cigarettes, gum or the many other types of nicotine replacement therapy, you’ve substituted one unhelpful behaviour for another.
Labelling smokers as stupid, underpins the idea that smokers are all they are. They’re much more than that, they’re our parents, children, brothers and sisters. As society advances, we look to science to lead the way, it’s time that we looked to the Social Sciences to help with unwanted behaviours such as smoking, and emerged from ‘dark age’ thinking and prejudice ourselves.