It Hit Me Like a Wall of Bricks
There are, it must be admitted, websites other than mine that claim to be able to cure smokers without nicotine, drugs, or willpower. What these sites offer are techniques. Don’t get me wrong. If smokers after working their way through a ten-day course to learn how to replace the word ‘cigarette’ in their minds with the word ‘air’ whenever they feel the desire to smoke, and by this laborious process manage to quit, that’s great. And good luck to them.
One such that I discovered is called CBQ. This means, we are told, cognitive behavioural quitting (derived from cognitive behavioural therapy) that, when applied to smoking, will enable you to quit ‘naturally’. (What’s an unnatural way of quitting then?) It boils down to trying to change the way you think about smoking.
More explanation of CBQ is given in a TEDx talk by the developer of this system, an earnest young woman with a charming Greek accent called Nasia Davos. She waves her arms around all the time she speaks, but what does she actually say? Plenty, and a lot more on her Webinar, though I found it difficult to concentrate beyond the long autobiographical introduction.
Quaint use of English
The ‘wall of bricks’, incidentally, is what she felt hit her when she was confronted by the tragedy of her cousin dying from smoking-induced lung cancer. Oh dear. You can say something hit you like a ton of bricks, or that you ran into a brick wall.
Although Ms Davos sports an MA in psychology, human behaviour, and psychoanalysis, no less, she doesn’t seem particularly clued up about why people smoke. Nor is she up to date about the annual global death toll from cigarettes that she puts at three million: the latest figure from the World Health Organisation, tragically, is seven million.
Ms Davos boasts of having read over 240 books and research papers on addiction. What she was hoping to discover, therefore, seems to have been rather elusive. Nor would her claimed knowledge of psychoanalysis have been of much help to find a cure for smoking. As is well known, psychoanalysis was invented by Sigmund Freud, but he died of throat cancer from long-term cigar smoking which he was unable to stop.
Why smokers smoke
This is her explanation of why smokers smoke:
Smoking activates the reward areas of your brain like the nuleus accumbens [though later she calls it the craving spot] that cause you to release feel-good chemicals like dopamine. So you smoke again and again to replicate the pleasurable effects of dopamine.
The idea that smoking causes the release of dopamine is no more than a theory – it’s impossible to measure the level of dopamine or any other neurochemical in the living human brain – and it’s curious that she claims smokers smoke for pleasure. Do they see a vision of heaven or experience an orgasmic sensation every time they suck poisonous cigarette fumes into their lungs?
Another of her purported reasons for smoking is, ‘When you’re stressed you smoke to relax and feel better.’ This is surprising coming from someone who herself claims to have smoked a pack-a-day for ten years, as she does. How is it that smokers have so much stress they need a cigarette as a kind of tranquilliser twenty (or however many it is) times a day? Could it be that smoking causes the stress rather than relieves it?
Whether you smoke for pleasure or to relieve stress, or both, Ms Davos puts it succinctly: ‘The motive for smoking is to feel good.’
Then what was the smoker feeling just before he or she smoked that cigarette? Clearly, not good. And why was that? A little thought and discussion with smokers will reveal that the reason for not feeling good twenty times a day is the cigarette itself. But Ms Davos just doesn’t get it:
You will become a happy non-smoker when you discover new ways to relax and feel good without relying on cigarettes.
You will become a happy non-smoker (other things being equal) merely by stopping smoking.
What about the dreaded cravings?
Ninety-four per cent of smokers who try to quit, fail because they don’t know how to manage their cravings.
The reason you suffer during a craving is because you don’t know how to keep your hands and mind busy until the craving is over.
There IS a simple way to knockout [sic] your cravings.
It would be tedious to critique all ninety minutes of the Webinar, but here is another quote to give you a further taste of her approach:
What I’ll tell you may not make sense but you’ll probably be able to feel it on some level. You don’t give [attempting to quit] your best shot. Because NOT giving it your best shot keeps the OPTION, the dream and the hope of successful quitting ALIVE. You must have faith, not fear.
There has to be a better way. There is. It’s called the Symonds Method.
Text © Gabriel Symonds