Smoking and Cats in pink pyjamas

Only 6% of smokers who try to quit by using their own will power stay stopped, and yet smoking addiction is very slight in comparison to heroin addiction, so why does it seem to be so hard?  Well the reason lies in the very nature of the way the brain works in order to overcome smoking.  In order for the will power method to work the conscious brain must focus on the thing that it does not want to do in order to not do it. Because how else will you remember not to do it unless you think about it right?  …


If I asked you now to think of anything at all except a cat in pink pyjamas and tell me now what you are thinking of?  A cat in pink pyjamas perhaps?  The way in which the psyche works, it has to understand what a cat in pink pyjamas looks like in order to then search and locate something else.  Even if it is only for a split second your psyche would have toyed with the idea of what a cat in pink pyjamas looks like before selecting something else.


The craving effects that smokers often refer to when they are ‘dying for another cigarette’ are stimulated by thinking about cigarettes and so the craving carries on and tortures the recently stopped smoker the level of time that the person stays stopped is down to their sheer stubbornness to not give in.


Hypnosis boasts over 66% success rate in helping people to stop smoking and the reason for its success lies in it’s approach. Through hypnosis the therapist aims to change the conditioned response and thus eliminating the need to think about cigarettes and smoking.


We are all full of conditioned responses, as a child it is how we begin to learn about our world – cause and effect.  For example when we pick up a knife and fork the same way each time we sit down to eat.  This is not something that we were born with it is something that we have learnt as we have grown older.  Now suppose for a moment that you decide to pick up your knife and fork the other way round for a moment.  Feels strange doesn’t it, because it is something that you are not used to.  It feels uncomfortable and you immediately have a desire to swap hands.  This is because you have a conditioned response that when you eat you pick up your knife and fork in a certain way.  This is rather like the cravings the recently stopped smoker experiences when they first do something that they used to associate with smoking, be it after a meal, socialising amongst certain friends, going for a walk, driving to work, driving home from work, because their subconscious brain is trying to complete the pattern AKA conditioned response as it realises that they have only half completed the task because the friends are there, the drink is there but the cigarette is not!


This is the same reason why a person who has never smoked can easily stand in a circle of smokers with a drink and not feel an over riding sensation to pick up a cigarette, because their conditioned response simply does not include the cigarette.  Through hypnosis a therapist aims to change the conditioned response in these patterns of smoking so that the person is able to carry out the situation without the need for a cigarette as if they had never smoked.  The way in which this works is that the therapist speaks directly to the subconscious whilst it is in a state of heightened awareness achieved in hypnosis.  In this state it is more readily accepting of ideas than in the normal.  Hypnosis brings both parts of the brain together allowing them to both focus completely and utterly on the same thing at the same time and therefore bringing them into alignment with each other.  It is whilst the two parts are working together in parallel that the therapy is used to make changes that are in line with the clients ethical and moral make up and so releasing any conditioned responses that are no longer required.


Alex Severn DHP LAPHP

Hypnotherapist based in Dormansland.

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