Re: Reconstruing giving up cigs

Tue, 9 Mar 1999 21:39:13 -0000

Dear Padraig
I found your question interesting as I was interested in looking at the kind
of changes involved in Ericksonian Hypnosis some years ago (and wrote an
unpublished article with Joady Brennan on this). (Erickson said Hypnosis was
nothing but the presentation of ideas to someone)

Clearly superordinate reconstruction can occur (religious conversion being
the classic example) The question is whether it can be invoked in a reliable
clinical way. I think a therapist who knows what they are doing (I wouldn't
claim this!) may possibly be able to up the chances of it by tackling an
issue in multiple ways relevant to the meaning system of the client. Clearly
though, the client must be ready in various ways to make a new comprehensive
elaborative choice and I guess the therapy needs to consist of helping the
client to do this in a way tuned to their particular way of construing.
Your Irish no-smoking progamme sounds like so many fashionable 'techniques'
that come and go. It seems such a passive, mechanical process, doesn't it.
I'm sure Kellian theory can give us a much more satisfactory way of
conceptualising this kind of change.

Yours, Harry Procter
-----Original Message-----
From: Padraig O'Morain <>
To: <>
Date: 04 March 1999 20:56
Subject: Reconstruing giving up cigs

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: