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Reducing Damaging Behaviors Caused by Trauma – 1) Smoking


The experience of childhood trauma can lead us to develop maladaptive (self-damaging) coping strategies to attempt to gain some relief from symptoms caused by the trauma such as depression and anxiety. Such self-damaging behaviors, to give just a few examples, may include : smoking, drinking too much, drug use and gambling – these are all what are known as ways of dissociating from uncomfortable emotions.

These can be regarded, in part, as indirect symptoms of our painful life experiences. In this post, I want to discuss how such harmful behaviors may be addressed by employing the use of hypnotherapy

Self-damaging behaviours frequently give rise to what are known as PREVENTABLE DISEASES. Lung cancers caused by smoking (about 80% of all lung cancer cases) would clearly be one example of a preventable disease.

Hypnosis can be used to not only reduce the incidence of health damaging behaviors, but, it may, too, be used to ENHANCE BEHAVIORS WHICH BENEFIT HEALTH such as keeping to a healthy diet or increasing the amount of exercise a person takes, to give just two examples.

Extremely often, however, when people attempt to alter their health behaviors for the better on their own, they find it extremely difficult. Because of this, about a quarter of people in the U.S. are at increased risk of illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.


It is particularly important to focus on the self-damaging health behaviors of people who have suffered childhood trauma because, frequently, they will have developed psychological problems as a result of their painful experiences such as depression and anxiety., both they and their doctors may well have been focusing so much upon their emotional difficulties that their physical health issues have taken a back seat.


Out of 65 million people in the U.S. who smoke, up to 80% of them want to quit the habit at any one time. However, research shows that only about 5% of those individuals will be able to achieve this on their own.

Because of the very poor success rate of individuals stopping smoking without any help, many turn to hypnotherapy. Research studies into the effectiveness of hypnotherapy in helping people to quit their habit has yielded varying results, but one study, by Elkins et al (2003), showed that its success rate can be as high as 80%.

Further research, by Glover and Glover (2001) demonstrated that hypnotherapy can be even more successful in helping individuals stop smoking when it is combined with nicotine replacement therapy such as nicotine patches, nicotine lozenges.


David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).


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