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New research into psychology of smoking

At Leeds Hypnotherapy Clinic our principal tenet in successfully treating smokers wanting to quit is explaining how their ‘addiction’ is  a psychological issue rather than being a physical craving for nicotine.

But this is not a popular view accepted by the world at large. Some people  find it a difficult concept to accept, mostly because the notion that smoking is physically addictive has become deeply embedded in the human psyche.

So it’s pleasing to be able to cite some professional research that supports my insistence that smoking addiction is “in the mind.”  

The latest findings come from a new study by Israeli scientists.

Dr Reuven Dar of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Psychology says that the psychological element of smoking is the key factor in convincing a person they are addicted.

In his study, published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Dr Dar writes “These findings might not be popular with advocates of the nicotine addiction theory, because they undermine the physiological role of nicotine and emphasize mind over matter when it comes to smoking.”

No smoking on air flights

In the study, researchers monitored the craving levels of in-flight male and female attendants, all of them smokers, during two flights, when they couldn’t have a cigarette. The attendants worked for Israeli airline El Al and were monitored on a l0- to 13-hour flight from Tel Aviv to New York and a two-stop shorter trip from Israel to Europe and back – each leg lasting three to five hours.

The team studied responses of the staff to a questionnaire. They found towards the end of each short flight, craving levels were much higher than those at the end of the long flight, which was presented as evidence that  cravings are triggered by anticipation rather than nicotine deprivation. 

At Leeds Hypnotherapy Clinic we explain to clients that the role played by nicotine in smoking ‘addiction’ is minimal and its presence short-lived – any short-lived physiological can be negated through hypnosis and by short-lived we are talking no more than an or hour or two. 

Self-fulfilling prophecy

We explain to clients that what they perceive to be cravings, thereafter, are in fact anxieties triggered by expectations. In other words the craving is an anxiety about becoming anxious. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Nevertheless, the popular belief persists, despite being an example of  inaccurate thinking. 

As philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote: “The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that is not utterly absurd.”

It is a quote that can be applied to many aspects of life.

You can find out more about smoking cessation in my book, Stop Smoking: It’s a Doddle, available free to download on this website.

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