Margaret, a 90-year old (not a typo!) musician from Manhattan, has been tobacco-free for a whopping 26 years, after a pack-a-day smoking career that spanned six decades. She’d quit before, cold turkey, but lasted only two days before she relapsed. Years later, she decided to try hypnosis to quite smoking at the recommendation of a trusted friend. “It wasn’t scary,” she remembers. “I was quite unaware that I was being hypnotized. The hypnosis was just deep enough for everything she said to take root. She told me that I shouldn’t ever touch another cigarette, not to think I can smoke and get away with it, and that one cigarette can restart the addiction over again. It was very easy. I was really quite surprised.” Margaret hasn’t taken a puff since.
While the findings about the efficacy of hypnosis on smoking are often murky, studies on the matter have shown increasingly positive results. Even Matt Damon and Charlize Theron have gotten in on the act. And the folks offering the service aren’t bearded men dangling pocket watches and telling you how heavy your eyelids are getting, or seeing patients in dingy basements outfitted with lava lamps and burning incense. Rather they’re people with advanced degrees who practice in the same kinds of clinics where you’d see your shrink or your ophthalmologist; rates usually start at around $80 per hour and can go as high as $200 (most practitioners recommend between one and four sessions).
But what, exactly, are these hypnotherapists doing?
In short, a hypnotherapist verbally guides a client to a hyper-responsive, hyper-attentive state in which the patient’s subconscious mind (the part that tells them that smoking is cool and totally worth it) is in its most persuadable state, and then replaces the harmful or unwanted thoughts with positive, healthy ones.
By Nina Emkin