Psychology of smoking

The tobacco has three tentacles with which to take us to the assault: a stimulating effect, a calming effect and a pleasure for itself.

As pleasure is a taste of rest, complement or dessert that rounds a previous well-being. Cigarette after a pleasant meal or when having a quiet coffee; the romantic on an idle and contemplative journey; After making love with excellent profit, relaxed.

The pleasure in these examples closely resembles the other pleasures that are savored, with time, without a bad conscience, as gifts of life, in a ceremonial way that dignifies them (without compulsion, with restraint and without more mission than decorating a moment nice).

This positive touch of tobacco is sometimes wielded as a pitiful great loss if the smoker considers the total abandonment of the habit: ” Am I going to miss that great pleasure, so reasonable and so good? ” Without knowing if by ‘that great pleasure’ we are referring to something really extraordinary or a decorative complement, or if the pleasures can no longer exist at all without that apparent smallness of tobacco, which absent could be like the open vein of a stoic suicide .

In the anguished fantasy of the addict, it can be equated to renounce pleasure when smoking is a real pleasure, to the disgust of living without a flavor that was essential to enjoyment, which from that moment on would become bland, decaffeinated, watery, barely husky.

Although the smoker can see non-smokers as capable of quiet enjoyment, he does not apply to himself that possibility that would encourage him to see himself knowing how to fix them perfectly, but rather tends to confuse the period of accustoming to a new situation with a chain perpetual, a decline, a fall in insult.

The stimulating properties of tobacco are very appealing to people who have a creative job (composers, plastic artists, writers, marketing professionals, lawyers, etc.) and favors inspiration, occurrences, brilliant ideas. It also provokes more sparkling, funny and engaging dialogues at meetings of friends, gatherings, discussion groups, etc. so that consumption skyrockets in these circumstances in an exponential way as if the effervescent and lively spirit seeks ways to explode as fireworks.

The euphoric and dis inhibitory power of alcohol and the stimulating efficacy of tobacco are easy resources and do not require a laborious creative method, systematic discipline, self-knowledge of motivational resources or other absurd sophistication, and precisely because of that simple productivity they can be installed in us as Essential tools and necessary condition to create and express yourself.

Tobacco is far from wanting to fold to a humble role of collaborator and in an underground, sinuous and imperceptible way a rebellion begins in which it tries to gain importance. First claiming the need to ‘take the time for a cigarette’, then smoke a cigarette to help the inspiration come, later go to the other end of the city before starting to acquire the necessary amount, then each phrase requires your cigarette , because the slow smoke will be rewarded for the gift of good ideas, and finally, installed the dizziness and nausea, as a worthy way to end an intoxicating triumph, or wielding the need to take some fresh air with which to renew itself to continue, or because carbonic intoxication alters the matter itself by flooding it with metaphors of the same smoking habit by carrying out the mephistophalic transformation of putting creation at the service of tobacco and not vice versa.

– Would the painter stop painting good pictures when he quit smoking? – Would he stop writing well without the use of tobacco? – Could you have a lively and intelligent discussion without the thread of a cigarette behind another bashing ideas? -The answer is yes, fortunately the intellectual and social production does not depend so much on the artificial stimulation of tobacco and can be supplied perfectly by different psychological stimuli.

Some forms may vary, which will be more serene and less compulsive. It can be written in a smoother way than the accident caused by smoking crashes and ash accidents. Perhaps the irregular flashes of genius would be suppressed giving way to stability and homogeneity, to a larger creative power. Regarding what you really have to measure, quality remains.

Without stimulants, only one form of work is lost and we are forced to change customs. We can make the comparison of going from writing to a pen with a computer: while we are used to the traditional pen system the computer seems rather a nuisance, but when we discover the facilities, we know how to take advantage of the new system, they are resources and ways of working Creativity processes are well above support techniques.

When we are in a group we have body and not just spirit. We have to have some poses, sit in a certain way, look, interrupt, laugh through some body techniques, a way of doing that is our external way of relating to others. It is part of these bodily postures to take a cigarette in a way that could already be automatic, such as parting our hair, or keeping up with the rhythm of ambient music. In this context, quitting smoking would force us to act in a new way. We could not, for example, in a long pause light a cigarette while recapping, but perhaps we would have to look without looking at a face in front of us, suppose.

Nor can we link using smoking and giving fire as facilitators and, perhaps, urged by the tyranny of our emotional needs, we invent phrases a little more elegant than the reliefs we are accustomed to.

Without the dense cloud of a meeting of conspirators you can also conspire, even seeing more clearly the face of our accomplices. We can also enjoy a Jazz session, Neither the smoke enhances the sound nor the nicotine makes it better. And although to some inveterate esthetes, the social and artistic world might seem too light and sweetened without tobacco, which provides them with an existential background and strong roots, that is pure superstition. The soft and bland life is a matter of lack of substance, not of appearances wrapped in smoke.

Tobacco has a relaxing power, not very potent, by the way, because maybe some whole packs were required to calm a good dislike. This property is discovered empirically, from accumulated experience, not because he was a type of relaxing relaxer like tila for these purposes. The motivation for smoking is difficult, therefore, that it was expressly the reassuring effect, but rather the ‘official’ explanation is “ I smoke because I like it. ” This is an unconsciousness very similar to that of an alcoholic who tries to convince us that he drank to be sociable, so as not to seem to be caught before friends who invite him to a drink, or because in life you have to give yourself some joy from time to time .

The parsimony of smoking gives way to psycho motor tension (which is one of the physical ways in which anxiety manifests itself). It is necessary to take out the cigarette, rescuing it from the pressure of its companions in the pack, watching that its fragility of paper cylinder containing crushed sheets was broken by an abrupt movement. You have to light the cigarette with a certain grace and dignified aesthetic touch. To gloat in the openwork and the bland emission of gaseous waste. Watch the ashes indiscreet, that they could stain everything and the embers that could pry the most precious clothes. The mechanics of smoking, as can be seen, is complex enough in itself to be considered ‘reassuring ceremony’. Smoking a pipe has this very pronounced component and it is difficult to include its practice in everyday situations, which has made it lose ground in front of the simple cigarette, which can be lit in any circumstance, especially if it was not forbidden to do so anywhere. Ideally, a place full of smokers that becomes a kind of church with its peculiar smells and shared liturgy.

The different situations that generate a certain degree of tension, such as the unpleasant wait in a queue or the distressing delay of a love date, uncertainty, worry, fears, resentment, everything unpleasant can be a stimulus to smoke and get an immediate relief, a few seconds of calm, a refuge in a reassuring activity that exorcises and removes the dangers as the fires lit scare the beasts.

The recourse to smoking becomes so manned to alleviate all kinds of discomforts that is effectively established as something systematic, allowing That tobacco occupies a privileged place in all our activities, being part of them as a culmination, control system, guarantee that they feel good or that they are well made.

Intensity and frequency are essential to generate a habit that already escapes the initial purpose of smoking only for pleasure.

A habit – custom, impulse – has an internal aspect that is as if we had Invincible hunger, and reaching that category of primary need, makes the cerebral cortex, where we plan intelligent actions, lend all the resources to satisfy and calm the urge to smoke (get nicotine as a substance that is confused with essential nutrients or that can even replace them ).

The stubborn desire is something biologically useful when it comes to having a lazy-proof motivation to ensure essential survival activities, but it is destructive when priming in a secondary activity (play, the pleasure of smoking getting something similar to the euphoric effect). of alcohol in some social situations) by promoting it above the hierarchy of key needs.

The value system that regulates what is most important to us (rest, hygiene, comfort, safety, economy) is altered when smoking is installed. If the smoker runs out of tobacco, he may be able – no matter how shy and discreet he was before – to ask for the alms of a cigarette at the first one that passes, even if he was the co-worker to whom we have mania. If it is three o’clock in the morning, – could not one dress and go a few kilometers further in search of a gas station or bar open at that time? – – And if it were the case, you could not take a cigarette butt that we have thrown in the trash or on the floor and, cleaning it a little, take advantage of it?

The smoker needs to feel ‘normal’, a person integrated into society, without his habit being considered at all as a drug. Although you can read the message ‘tobacco can be harmful to health’, – do you not buy it in a public establishment? – – Is it not one of the important sources of State financing to make roads, hospitals and attend to the helpless? – – Do not the main social agents who admire and value themselves smoke? -.

For that reason, because it is normal, – why not smoke in front of non-smokers?, – What’s wrong with filling a room with smoke that can be ventilated if it bothers someone who was drowning or barking? – Why would to disturb the smoke to the neighbors? -And the smell why it is bad smell if it is natural, produced by a vegetable as ecological as a eucalyptus? – And if you have to expel a cigarette butt, – will it not go off spontaneously alone? – it is not very improbable that a butt thrown to the gutter could cause a fire?

Smoking is so familiar that it is strange that no one could bother, unless it was a suspicious or fussy eager, so the smoker gradually becomes more daring until he tries to ‘lightly’ light a cigarette in the common bedroom, the hospital room, in a visit to a church, a train, a public office, a wake, in offices or where his boldness will come.

To the extent that tranquilizing rituals are part of the habit of smoking, and substances generate addiction, there comes a time when anxiety is already caused by the fact of missing smoking, and this anxiety calms down, in a endless circle, smoking again, which strengthens the need for nicotine. At this time, smoking is called to holy war against anxiety, and like every holy war, it creates more war than peace, more anguish than calm.

The power of the habit of smoking disappears – although not instantly – not giving you the food that makes you fat. He dies of starvation at a time similar to that of starving to death. Not giving anything, as in a radical strike, shrinks and decreases. But while without nutrients we really agonize, without tobacco, however, we are reborn, and it is not a going to death but a coming to a new life.

The transition from being a smoker to a new being abstemious of tobacco, contains a confusing suffering, because it is not well known if it is bad to kill to make another live or if the birth will be traumatic or who is who in this war. For example, – who suffers? – -I-abstemious or I-smoker? – The suffering to produce a birth is very different from that caused by uprooting. It is a difference as important as that given in the comparison between the anguished, but pleasant, emotion to arrive, with respect to the anguished, but sad, to be expelled.

The smoker who is on the bridge that leads to a new life without tobacco, can look at his thirst thwarted with cigarettes, as a pleasure of saying no, one step closer to the other shore.

The most sublime emotions are born from enduring other more elementary ones in which it could be undone. The saving of not giving the immediate pleasure of smoking and leaving aside the inconveniences of abstention, builds a new satisfaction, in which we are pleased in our own esteem, a feeling of being consistent, of knowing how to install a balance, a pride much more joyful, a filling in front of an emptying. These are pleasures that are only waiting a little, tolerating for a while until the wave of anxiety goes down and that of triumph rises.

In general, the addict overestimates the duration of the displeasure caused by refusing. Logically, the desire to smoke is like a pedigree child who knows from experience that insisting heavily again and again, finally has a reward for exhaustion and loss of patience of the elderly. The child also knows that the force of desire is very persuasive (he really wants to, he would be very happy, he is very excited …). He does not unleash the rage, the tantrum, an insistence and a momentary accentuation of the rejected and forbidden desire.

We can be scared because all that deafening rumor that the smoker who has been but could be again leaves behind would be unbearable for a long time. And therein lies the key – how long does the noise last – how long does the enemy resist attacking? -If we foresee a time that is too long and unbearable, we will yield to that ‘force mature’ and if, on the contrary, we foresee a limited duration (2, 3 minutes, for example), the thing may seem very different, perfectly bearable, bloodless, almost a trifle.

Although the moments of withdrawal syndrome are indeed moments and perfectly overcome, the propaganda, persuasive and manipulative intelligence of the habit presents them as of an unbearable duration.

The extinction of the desire to smoke poses the reverse of what his generation has been: although not smoking we hope that the desire to smoke disappears, we find that he protests more than ever and fights more cunningly to win the game with diabolical arguments such as:

We have too many inconveniences

[argument] “ It is not human to suffer in an unbearable way of not smoking. We don’t have to be so cruel. ”

[fallacy] The suffering of unsatisfied desire is sold as horrible, when it really is less than a tap on the elbow.

We miss essential advantages

[argument] “ Without smoking we could not be natural, be comfortable with friends, or be comfortable. We lose a condition that is already part of our personality and we would leave nothing less than one of the best pleasures we have. ”

[fallacy] The welfare it provides is not the bulk of what we do when we smoke for pleasure and it is even debatable that we call it pleasure when the tyranny of addiction has developed. Tobacco is not essential for the performance of our lives. The adaptation to living without tobacco is possible, fast and simple. To the extent that we resist not smoking we feel better, not worse, so that the first day after quitting tobacco would be the worst of all and after a month we were even happy.

We can control it whenever we want (when we would like it means)

[argument] “ I actually smoke because I want to and when I decided to do so I would leave it without much trouble.

[fallacy] Self-control is fictitious because it is based on arguments that rather prove that the person is addicted, such as not recognizing the strength of conviction and self-deception that habit has.

Collateral damage

[argument] “ I would quit if it wasn’t because if I quit smoking I will gain weight or be so anxious that it would seriously harm my health. ”

[fallacy] If we really wanted to tame anxiety we could resort to healthier alternative control systems, such as exercise, a lime, activities, etc. and in the same way monitor the weight controlling the behavior of overeating.

It is good to be flexible

[argument] “ You have already tried for a few days that you can quit smoking whenever you want, so now you could safely smoke a cigarette that would be like a kind of prize to rejoice for having quit, and there is also no danger of relapse since we have demonstrated willpower, and also, in life it is good to be flexible instead of rigid and dogmatic. ”

[fallacy] I smoke because I want and when I want to quit, when we have had to quit even if we wanted to, forced by health reasons, and also not being flexible, but rather by a surgical and laborious disciplined disinhabitation.

Although the smoker has not smoked for a long time, the wave of desire can continue to assault him at the right times, of weakness, despair, crisis, to give him war with a new assault, always with his saving voice, promising his soothing power, his supposed great power. pleasure of relief or even its doubtful power of revenge for the bad that has happened to us.

The smoker also fuels the impulse to smoke with such sophisticated mechanisms as in the case of compulsive eating in which shame and guilt for our weakness leads us to eat again to combat despair with the comfort of abandonment. The same anti-tobacco campaigns, which affect the ‘vice’ socially, presenting the smoker as a weak, irrational and stinky entity, make smoking be lived with assimilated guilt and shame and this intimate dissoil of declassing is confirmed or calms smoking.

This smoker who has internalized the rejection usually says that “ although I know I should not smoke, I recognize that I am unable to quit, ” which is a third change from the arrogant “ I smoke because I want to. ”

The simple recommendation that a well-intentioned person directs to the smoker “ you should quit, it does not suit you ” produces the imperative desire to smoke immediately, before it was the case, that later it was no longer possible to do it for some kind of religious conversion, to How the devil’s strategy would be for the soul to sin before it dies.

Also the internal conflict “I would have to leave it since my duty is that, but I resist”, it may cause an urgent act of reparation consisting of smoking so that “it is late” or “it would be better to start tomorrow.”

A relapse of a smoker begins with a cigarette. Smoking that cigarette for which you have lost what is already gained requires a considerable effort of unconsciousness and self-deception. And the impulse, nicotine hunger, uses the most refined arguments to blind our criticism and undo our caution.

A cigarette, only one and none other: this seems innocent, and one would be a faint-hearted exaggerated for refusing such a tiny thing. It is as important and decisive for the desire to smoke the first cigarette as the first date in love that ‘start’ must sound to ‘end’, and is presented insisting that ‘it will be the last’, ‘I will stop’, ‘none more ‘, and so we achieve that it seems that smoking is finished before starting it can be done, because we have already assumed that’ nothing happens’.

About the author


Kim Lee lives in Tampa, Florida and focuses on living an intentionally happy life, helping others live better, and having a whole lot of fun. She loves to write, read, enjoy the outdoors, and play with dogs.

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