Re: Reconstruing giving up cigs

Padraig O'Morain (
Wed, 10 Mar 1999 14:17:48 +0000

Dear Harry,
What puzzled me about the reports on this no-smoking programme is that the things that were said to
the smokers who wanted to quit were the same things that every smoker has heard innumerable times
over the years: that you'll taste your food better, that smoking doesn't really relax you and so
on. The only thing I could see that was different is that they spent a whole day with a
"counsellor" telling them these things and talking to them about them.

I wondered if the length of time had something to do with it? Another example is industrial
relations negotiations where, much of the time, each side is trying to change the other's way of
looking at things: the most fruitful negotiations, in my experience, are those which go on for
hours or days at a time. I wonder if this is because brief sessions cannot change how the parties
construe their various perceptions. It may also explain why the union negotiators, after doing
deals in long meetings, then get kicked around by the members - who haven't been in the
re-construing crucible!
Padraig O'Morain

> 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 unpublished article with Joady Brennan on this).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
Padraig O'Morain
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