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30.a. Rational Emotive Therapy (RET)


This article is from the Stop Smoking FAQ, by 70424.57@compuserve.com with numerous contributions by others.

30.a. Rational Emotive Therapy (RET)

I put this one first because it can be - and IMHO, should be, - used in
conjunction with any of the other methods listed in this section. It also
seems to me to be closely related to the advice of Allen Carr, whose method
is described below.

Don't shy away from what may sound like a technical discussion; RET
basically is no more than a way of changing your attitude.

Steve Polansky ("DD [Dare Devil] Steve") introduced RET to the group in a
follow-up to a post by Shirley Shaw.

Shirley observed:

"The fear was the most uncomfortable thing about the day. Perhaps that is
one of the reasons we smoked...the fear of being uncomfortable."

DDSteve responded:

"I had an opportunity several years back to be introduced to Rational
Emotive Therapy [RET]. About all I remember is that: between the occurrence
of an event and our reaction to it, there is a mental dialogue that
probably determines what our reaction will be to that event. ... [T]he
dialogue is usually one that we are unaware of on a conscious level.
Further, that by altering the script of that dialogue, we will alter our
reaction to the event.

"When I look back at why I smoked, what I remember is that I seldom smoked
a cig because it tasted good or because it felt good. I usually, like any
chemical addict, smoked so that I wouldn't be/feel uncomfortable. A sagging
nicotine level brought on that awful feeling we called a nicotine fit. What
were its characteristics? Nervousness, trembling, sweating, irritability? I
remember these and there are probably others, all uncomfortable sensations.

"And how did we 'cure' the condition? We smoked a cigarette. Pretty simple
solution, and effective. This is where I see the internal dialogue being
established. As neophyte smokers we 'learned' to relieve discomfort by
smoking a cigarette. I'm sure very few of us willingly waited till we were
uncomfortable. The onset of the sensations associated with a sagging nic
level triggered a response that, with practice, happened more
automatically, [until] we were no longer consciously in the loop.

"Here is where I make a connection that may not be valid. Once we had
established the dialogue that went "when I feel a sensation that feels like
a nic fit, smoke a cig to cure it", then any event that produced feelings
similar to a nic fit should/could be cured by smoking a cig. I very much
doubt that we looked closely at why we lit a particular cig. With every cig
smoked, with every repetition, the pattern became more ingrained.

"... I was talking to a friend who had quit cold turkey a few months
earlier. He was telling me how much he wanted a cig. That sometimes he
craved them so badly he felt like he was being turned inside out. Talking
to him, it seemed that the only thing that had changed was that he was no
longer putting a cig in his mouth. But the rest of his habit was somehow
still intact. He really believed that a cig would relieve his discomfort. I
wonder if his inner dialogue is telling him that 'a cig will make you feel
"If we don't alter the script, we run the risk of relapse. If we do change
the script, we can comfortably and confidently carry on with our lives with
no risk of relapse."


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