Reconstruing giving up cigs

Padraig O'Morain (
Thu, 4 Mar 1999 21:24:20 +0000

There's been some publicity on TV in Ireland on a commercial outfit who claim to be able to help
anyone to give up smoking. From the description, the process seems to involve the would-be quitter
going to a counsellor who "talks" to them for four or five hours in one day. What they seem to do
is give them new ways of construing the horrors of being off the fags. (e.g. "you want to feel
relaxed but a cigarette won't relax you, what will relax you is..). The TV programme sent off lots
of inveterate smokers to the woman who does this stuff in Dublin and they all returned four weeks
later, smoke-free and, curiously, saying they had suffered no withdrawal symptoms. Yesterday I was
at a wake where the smokers were being banished to a back room (Irish wakes aren't what they used
to be) and the conversation turned to giving up cigarettes. One of the non-smokers told us she had
gone to the woman mentioned on the TV programme, had spent some hours with her and hadn't smoked
since. She said she "just talked to her". There was no hypnosis or anything of that kind
involved, according to her. She has had few withdrawal symptoms and has no desire to smoke.

My question is: Is it possible that reconstruing can have such a powerful and quick effect? Could
it be that a session designed to help some-one to, if you like, reconstrue their way out of an
activity, can be more effective if carried out over one session of several hours (I heard the
"creator" of this no-smoking programme on the TV and the things he says about smoking and the joys
of being able to taste food again and so on are no different to what smokers have been hearing for

Maybe the PCP people are sitting on a goldmine and fame and fortune are just around the corner!

Padraig O'Morain
A Reality Therapy/Choice Theory Web Site: