Nicotine: The Weird (Non) Addiction

by Chris Holmes

Now Meet Doug Wilson

What have I been saying all this time?  That tobacco smoking has been MISTAKEN for an addiction but is really just a compulsive habit.  How did I discover this?  By finding that a single hypnotherapy session can shut it down easily, cravings and all, with no weight gain and no side effects.  This I have done with thousands of smokers over the last ten years.  I am also trying to explain to the world that cravings are not withdrawal symptoms and that they are unconnected to nicotine levels in the system, which is why a smoker can get an impulse to reach for a cigarette when they have recently put one out (eg. when bored or whilst socialising) or whilst wearing a nicotine patch.

Another factor that helped me to understand the differences between a Compulsive Habit and a real drug addiction was my own personal experiences with real addictions and other compulsive habits – various drug habits, a drink habit and other, non-substance habits.  Here is another chap who has had similar life experiences which have caused him to notice the curious differences between drug addiction and a tobacco habit.  As you read this, note particularly how Doug has realised that the “I want a cigarette” impulse (craving) is not the same as withdrawal, and once he has actually lit it he often finds that he doesn’t “want” it much at all, and often doesn’t finish it.  He can’t explain that, but I can: cravings feel like a need or a desire, but they are really only mimicking bodily needs.  The Subconscious is sending a ‘prompting’ signal to repeat the habitual behaviour, but it sends it via the body, using the body as a signalling system to convey an impression to the conscious awareness that something is ‘desired’ or ‘needed’, when in fact only the signal makes it seem so.  It is VERY effective, but because the signal is only prompting the smoker to pick up the cigarette and light it, as soon as that is done the signal disappears.  The rest of it is smoked out of a mixture of habit and expectation, but already the compulsive urge (sense of need) is gone.  That’s why some smokers put it out halfway through or even put it down in an ashtray and forget all about it.

We get lots of cravings, they’re not all about tobacco.  They are compulsive urges, not withdrawal symptoms.  Read what Doug says about withdrawal.

Not a Bodily Need

Don’t get me wrong, cravings can certainly FEEL like a physical need – and that can be utterly, utterly convincing but if it were true, it would still be there after the hypnotherapy session but it’s not.  Now read this bit from Doug again:

“The part I don’t like about “I’m quitting” is the “I want a cigarette voice”. It seems inconsequential. But what are the symptoms of schizophrenia? The voice can drive you nuts. The voice – is awful. You’d think, with the amount of work I do on my brain and the amount of writing I do on the subject I’d have a plan. Nope. I have people call me and write me for help with addictions. They ask for help understanding the brain and I offer them what I’ve come to understand. I know it’s just a voice. I know it’s just my brain. I know I won’t go clinically insane when I quit. I know that if have to listen to the voice say, “I want a cigarette”, a thousand times a day, I’ll be in better shape than I am now. You’d think I’d be anxious to get started. Nope. The voice sucks. It takes over. It hounds. Pesters. Grates. I get mad. I wanna smash it. I get annoyed, antsy, edgy and restless. But I don’t have a single physical withdrawal symptom. Weird.”

The Factual Explanation

The key is, the part of the brain sending the “I want” message is the Subconscious, and the decision to quit smoking was made by the conscious mind.  The Subconscious knows nothing about it.  All it knows is, you’re not responding to the prompting message so it sends another, and another… driving you up the wall until you want to smash something.  But along comes the Expert Hypnotherapist and explains the conscious decision to the Subconscious – and all the reasons for it (very important) – and the fact that tobacco companies were LYING when they told us all that tobacco was useful or pleasant in some way (even more important) and guess what?  The message STOPS.  And as long as the Expert Hypnotherapist makes it very clear that we don’t want that habit replaced with anything else (like food or chocolate), then that won’t happen either.  Nicotine has nothing to do with it.  The nicotine tale is a lie, and if it wasn’t for the loony GP I introduce in the next post, no-one would be regarding this particular habit as if it were a drug addiction anyway.

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The Drug That Never Was

Self-Administration Can Be Fun, Fun, Fun!

By Chris Holmes

The Non-Smoker Tries a Cigarette

Remember your first cigarette?  Or to be more precise, do you remember the first time you inhaled tobacco smoke properly and experienced the effect on the way you felt, physically and mentally?

If there was no alcohol in your system already at the time – or any other recreational drug like cocaine, amphetamine or cannabis – if you were – like myself – eight years old and hiding at the bottom of your friend Ian’s garden having helped him steal a (now rather crumpled) Embassy No.1 from his Mam’s packet, and a single match… after a few puffs on that, you may have felt like this:

Nauseous… head fuzzy… feel rather sick and faint… got that uncomfortable feeling like I don’t know where to put myself… feel really unwell… don’t feel safe… bowels churning… feel rotten, very definitely ill.  Poisoned.  Really want to feel normal again, regret trying this…

So I lay down on the grass and waited, feeling stunned and very sick.  It would be four whole years before I tried tobacco again.

Now of course, there are a lot of chemicals in tobacco smoke, not just nicotine.  But nicotine was certainly in there, and according to the British Medical Association’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary (Dorling Kindersley, 2002 – I have it open in front of me)… nicotine “stimulates the central nervous system, thereby reducing fatigue, increasing alertness, and improving concentration.”

Really?  Then how come I was lying there like a stuck pig watching the sky whirl round?  Also, why does the same medical dictionary include amongst the side effects of nicotine replacement therapy “nausea, headache, palpitations, cold or flu-like symptoms”?

After The Sly Smoke at School

As we headed back into the main building Stuart said, as he often did: “You know lads, I really feel ready for Double Physics now!  I feel energised, alert… the only problem is that my noticeably-increased powers of concentration might give me away this afternoon!  Better stash these cigs somewhere…”

It was a hazard of which we were all too keenly aware.  Anyone who works in a school will be able to spot the smokers – full of life, really alert, always concentratin’… come to think of it we had a bit of an unfair advantage, didn’t we?  No wonder we all did so well.

The Non-Smoker Tries A Nicotine Patch

Many years later, long after I had ditched tobacco I found myself putting the finishing touches to a book about nicotine and smoking (working title: Whose Stupid Idea Was All That Then?) when it suddenly occurred to me that although I had tried tobacco when I was a non-smoker and found it stunningly nauseating… experienced tobacco smoke as a regular smoker and grown accustomed to it but it never seemed beneficial… and also tried Nicotine Replacement Poisoning as a regular smoker and found it slightly weird and pointless, I had never tried nicotine alone as a non-smoker. What would it be like?  Perhaps, all those years ago in Ian’s garden I had been overwhelmed by all the other poisons in the smoke.  Maybe, if I just tried “therapeutic nicotine” all by itself, nicotine would indeed “stimulate the central nervous system, thereby reducing fatigue, increasing alertness, and improving concentration.” After all, that’s what the British Medical Association say it does.

The Experiment

So I obtained a single nicotine patch, a NiQuitin CQ 21mg 24-hour patch.  I also put by a pen and some paper upon which to make notes of the experience as I went along. I didn’t really intend to leave it on for the full 24 hours but I did aim to leave it on for most of the day, just to monitor the experience.  As it turned out, it didn’t quite happen that way.  What follows is directly quoted from Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was:

“This was at 10.15 on a Sunday morning, April 22nd 2007.  We were planning to take the kids to the park at about eleven, which I was looking forward to because it was a nice day.  This is an exact transcript of the notes I made at the time.

10.15 am.  Stuck patch on inside upper left arm.

10.20 am.  Tingling in both hands, mild tightening feeling in the throat.

10.25 am.  Feel nauseous, patch burning skin a bit.

10.30 am.  Feel like blood pressure is up, not a pleasant feeling.  Tense.  Uncomfortable, want to take it off actually.  More nauseous, feel a bit ill.  Patch really burning.  Bowels upset a bit.

10.35 am.  Head fuzzy.  Feel rather sick.  Got that feeling like I don’t know where to put myself.  Feel really uncomfortable and irritable now.

10.37 am.  Took patch off.  Don’t feel safe.  Big red mark on arm.  Hands/wrists aching.  Feel sick and faint, balance and even speech abnormal.  Wrists and hands quite red.  Bowels churning.  Feel rotten, very definitely ill.  Poisoned.  Really want to feel normal again, regret trying this.

10.50 am.  Still feel just as rotten, but feeling of real alarm that made me take it off now subsiding.  Just feel ill.

“The patch was only in contact with my skin for 22 minutes.  Before I began the experiment I felt fine – healthy and in good spirits.  Now I felt absolutely terrible, really unwell and although I don’t usually scare easy…” [as a former intravenous drug user over many years, I’ve done some pretty mad and dangerous things] “…actually afraid to leave the patch on any longer.  But here’s the thing – according to the B.M.A., nicotine:

“stimulates the central nervous system, thereby reducing fatigue, increasing alertness, and improving concentration.”

“So, did “therapeutic nicotine” make me feel more alert, able to concentrate better, as the B.M.A. described?  Well, by the time I took the patch off I was very nauseous, anxious, irritable and no longer able or willing to hold a normal conversation – so I would have to say no, it certainly did not.  Well, why not?  If that is what nicotine does, that is what it does.  I would have noticed.  It just made me feel poisoned, and actually it did remind me of the first cigarette I ever tried, when I was eight.  My pal Ian Coates stole a single Embassy No.1 from his mum, and we hid at the bottom of his garden and smoked it.  It left me feeling pretty much like the experience I described above, but with a foul taste in my mouth as well.  It was years before I tried one again, and even then it wasn’t because I liked it the first time.  It was just because I wasn’t allowed to, and because smoking makes you look grown-up and cool, despite being twelve and pimply with awful hair and silly clothes.  And feeling very queasy, if not actually vomiting.

“At eleven o’clock, we all left for the park.  Sure enough I felt very queasy, delicate and anxious that I might suddenly need the toilet – that IBS feeling.  I really didn’t want to go out at all now, I felt more like going for a lie down, which I hardly ever feel like doing even when I am ill.  Of course, some fool might suggest that the dose was too high for a non-smoker, or that I was irresponsible to try that without medical advice, as if that were the reason it made me ill.  But that’s ridiculous: none of us took medical advice before we tried our first cigarette, did we?  And very few kids start with a low-nicotine cigarette – certainly not my generation anyway, or the previous one.  So it was, in fact, an experiment that roughly replicated many initial, real smoking experiences but this time focussing entirely on nicotine itself – and guess what?  Nicotine just makes you feel ill, because it is nothing but a poison.  I’m not saying you can’t get used to it – professional boxers get used to being slammed in the face with a fist to the point where they hardly notice it, and I’m sure that stimulates the central nervous system too, but that don’t make it medicinal, baby.”

Talking of Crazy Experiments That Aren’t Exactly Scientific…

Who discovered penicillin?  That’s right, Fleming.  Who invented the hypodermic syringe?  Louis Pasteur, correct.  Both well known names in the history of medicine because the things they gave us are used by millions of people all over the world.  So: who invented nicotine replacement therapy?

You don’t know, do you?

Well, he was also the man who insisted that tobacco smoking was not just a filthy habit, as everyone had been quite happy to regard it for several centuries.  He insisted it was a drug addiction, and he claimed in a letter to The Lancet that he had ‘proven’ this by gathering together a group of 35 habitual smokers and – with their permission – injected them with 1mg of nicotine whenever they felt like they wanted a cigarette.  He insisted that because the impulse to reach for a cigarette then subsided, this proved that the reason they smoked was because they were addicted to nicotine.

The man was a Glaswegian GP called Dr. Lennox Johnston (1899-1986) and the main reason you have never heard of him is because everyone thought he was loopy.  He isn’t credited with inventing Nicotine Replacement Poisoning because he wasn’t suggesting using nicotine to get people OFF smoking.  In fact, that would be an insane suggestion from anyone who was insisting that the smoking problem was a result of addiction to that very poison.  No, he simply used that method to try to demonstrate his theory that smokers’ cravings are in fact a physical “need” for nicotine itself – but the experiment doesn’t even do that in reality.  If I had still been a smoker when I tried that patch experiment, I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to smoke for quite some time after that, just as I never wanted one when I had a hangover or felt under par for any other reason.  Lennox Johnston’s 35 volunteers were habitual smokers so they were more used to being poisoned than I was, but if they didn’t feel much inclined to smoke for a bit after an injection of a lethal insecticide (nicotine) then we shouldn’t be surprised.

Short-term reactions to interventions of that sort are no proof of anything.  This is why the Advertising Standards Agency recently blocked an advert by the NHS Stop Smoking Services which tried to use reported cessation rates at four weeks as if they were real success rates.  They said it was misleading, and I have already shown in the Evidence section of this site how the difference between those short-term results and the real outcomes at a one-year interval can be as great as 90% short-term, falling to 8% by the end of the year we have to conclude that the ASA are right to object.

Since I started this Campaign in March 2008, I have often heard it suggested that NRT products have been ‘properly’ tested in scientific trials, so I must be talking nonsense when I say they are utterly bogus and have no long-term effectiveness to speak of at all.  Did any of those people suggesting that know that in the original trials that got NRT passed as if it were a medication in the first place, it was passed on the basis of it’s performance at SIX WEEKS.  In smoking cessation that is NOT proof of efficacy and it should never have happened at all.

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Poor Little Conscious Mind

by Chris Holmes

If you were ever under the impression that the Subconscious mind was just a robotic ‘lizard brain’ that blindly obeys instructions from a hypnotist, you couldn’t be more wrong!  Many people get that idea from seeing stage hypnotists, who are deliberately misleading their audience but only getting away with creating the impression that they have influence over other people’s minds because the people in the audience know virtually nothing about the true nature of their own Subconscious!

The Missing Information

You know when you were growing up, and first making sense of the world around you, and being taught things… did anyone mention a Subconscious mind to you?  No, me neither!  We were all raised and educated as if the Subconscious mind does not exist. So by the time we reach an age when we start hearing that word mentioned from time to time, we don’t really know what to do with the idea of a Subconscious mind, because it does not immediately fit in to the way we regard our own mind.  By that point in our development the conscious mind thinks IT IS the mind, so at first it doesn’t like the sound of this ‘Subconscious mind’ and tends to push the idea away.

This is particularly true of very analytical people who tend to cling to logic, rationality and scientific models of reality, some of whom (not all, obviously!) seem to feel a need to attack or pour scorn upon anything that looks as if it must be outside of their comfort zone.  A few of these people also come to suppose that the only reason other people don’t think exactly the same way as they do themselves is because those folk aren’t as clever as the strictly rational sort.  Here is a typical example, taken from a recent review of Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was by someone who seems (to me) to have only read the excerpts from the book published on this site:

“…according to Mr Holmes, quitting is as easy as a 2 hour session appealing to your mysterious subconscious, that (conveniently) only a hynotherapist can communicate with.  You can believe in his miracle cure, and no doubt hand over a large sum of cash in the process, or you can use the method that actually works, and costs nothing – quit cold turkey, and promise yourself you will not smoke just for today. I did that 6 months ago, and my “subconcious” had F-all to do with it.”

This attitude is quite commonplace, which is why I mention several times in the book that “the conscious mind does not believe in the Subconscious, except perhaps in theory.  And by extension, doesn’t believe in hypnotherapy either until encountering the results for real.”  Notice how the writer here is suggesting that I charge large sums of money without bothering to ask about that, dismisses hypnotherapy by choosing the phrase “miracle cure” and refers to his own subconscious mind at the end in a way that suggests there is no such thing!  Not his fault, no-one ever taught him anything about it, or he would know already that it is not ‘mysterious’ to me, nor did I ever suggest that only hypnotherapists can communicate with it – tell that to advertisers, they’ve been communicating with it very effectively for a long time now.  Of course, once you understand the Subconscious mind’s view of the world, you are far less likely to be influenced by any of that.

Not Rational = Dangerous!

Sometimes ‘rationalists’ even suggest that mental processing (thinking) that is not within the strict bounds of logic is dangerous, and there is certainly evidence for that: for example when people first dreamed up the idea that we might be able to design a machine that could fly – and maybe even reach for the heavens, walk upon the moon, that sort of thing – well, many of the original pioneers of that sort of fanciful nonsense came unstuck!  “Serves them right too”, the strictly logical people of the time would have probably been telling one another, “after all, if man had been meant to fly, he’d have been born with wings!”

My contention is that if man had been meant to always be strictly logical, he wouldn’t have been born with an imagination.  And indeed some are not, or at least with such a shrivelled and weak imagination that they hardly ever use it.  So maybe what really happens is that we all play to our strengths, and the people with feeble imaginations develop their analytical faculties more, whilst those with fertile imaginations may find logical analysis a bit dull compared to letting their imaginations run wild.  And the human world needs plenty of both types – if they are types – because when you need someone to be the financial director of a business, you definitely want the conscious analytical faculties to be confidently brought to bear in that endeavour, but if you want someone to design a new Ferrari or stage the opening of the next Olympic Games, Mr. Logical would be utterly useless.

The Imagination and The Analyst (and the real issue behind the Snow/Leavis debate)

Ever since ‘le petit enlightenment’, as I like to call it, the marvellous role of the Subconscious Imaginary has been less appreciated, even dismissed. “Oh, that’s just your imagination!” is a common expression for demonstrating how little you care for the concerns of another person, but within that phrase there is also a suggestion that “imaginary” = “not real” = “not worthy of serious consideration”.

That notion is really a result of the Subconscious-shaped gap in our general education.  And it needs fixing, because in reality the role of the imagination in human affairs has been every bit as vital as the role of the intellect.

(An aside for those familiar with the Snow/Leavis reference: “There is only one way out of all this,” Snow had argued. “It is, of course, by rethinking our education.”  He was right, but probably didn’t realise that what we really need to include now is detailed information about the Subconscious mind so that it no longer seems “mysterious” to anyone!)

When Rene Descartes famously declared: “I think, therefore I am”, what he didn’t realise was that we are thinking more than we think we are.  Humans have at least two modes of thinking: analytical thinking which our conscious faculties operate, and Subconscious thinking which we call “dreaming”. When we do that whilst awake, we call it “daydreaming”.  Examples of a finer quality are also known as “inspiration” or even “genius”.

“Oh, he’s just a dreamer!” is another familiar dismissal of the kind of person who spends more time exercising their Subconscious intelligence than their conscious faculties.  But where would we be without the dreamers?  Every great invention, each quantum leap in technological development, any stunning performance or inspirational work of art, every great engineering project… they all began with a daydream.

Just look at the way many modern realities were the mere fantasies of yesteryear:

Five centuries ago Leonardo DiCaprio was producing detailed drawings of a Ford Capri that might actually have done 0-60 in 7.5 seconds if only they’d had petrol back then, but all they had was candle grease.  They also had no Highway Code, which is why Leonardo wrote The DaVinci Code.

The only reason Britain has the Channel Tunnel today is because Margaret Thatcher loved taking magic mushrooms. That’s why she hardly slept, but during one particularly heavy trip she had visions of a tunnel under the sea that could bring closer together the two nations that love each other best in the world: the English and the French.

Certain thrilling pastimes of the modern world would not exist at all if it hadn’t been for World War II fighter ace Douglas Bader.  Hurtling towards the ground in his flaming Spitfire, he paused before ejecting just a little longer than he should have done, because he was enjoying the weightless sensation so much that he started dreaming of ways to re-create it just for sport.  That hesitation cost him all his limbs and almost his head, yet he lived to fly again, and that inspirational moment gave us the luge, the bobsleigh and at least two of the rides at Alton Towers.

Bruce Springsteen was hiding in a cave one day, because he had chopped down his father’s cherry tree, when he noticed a spider building a web. Just for fun he destroyed the web, and was surprised to see that the spider was apparently not deterred by this and simply built the web back up again from scratch.  What really impressed Springsteen – who was later to become world-famous as Robert The Boss – was that no matter how many times he meanly tore down the completed web, the spider would patiently build it back up again.  After several days of this, Bruce emerged from the cave inspired to create something that no-one could ever get rid of, which is why the World Wide Web was born in the USA.   Although Bruce wasn’t, actually, he was born in Cardiff.  He only swam to America because he wanted to be a cowboy.  And also to get away from his dad, who was absolutely fuming about the tree because it was the third time.  But I reckon it was his own fault really, he should have just bought the kid that guitar and then maybe none of that axe unpleasantness would have happened.  It was Lizzie Borden and the harpsichord all over again.

For most of the time humans have been on this planet, a sudden massive heart attack would have meant a long and quick death.  (“Long” as in “dead for a long time”.)  Then one day in 1820 a Tasmanian surgeon called Dr Lucian C. Gore was surprised by a mouse in his summerhouse, and began to wonder what would happen if he used industrial cutting gear to rip open the chest cavity of the heart-attack victim before the relatives had time to object and replace the damaged organ with the healthy, fast-beating heart of a fieldmouse.  Gore never succeeded with this technique himself, and was soon arrested – which surprised no-one at the time – and yet his apparently crazy idea was adapted later and although Gore’s name is hardly known to the public, in medical circles he is often referred to as the psychotic father of modern organ transplant surgery.

When Martin Luther famously nailed that note to the door of 10 Downing Street in the Nineteen Seventeen Hundreds, which said: “I have a dream!” …of course no-one took any notice, but they certainly felt very silly later when that phrase became one of the most inspirational moments of public oratory since the Declaration of Independence was read out by Ho Chi Minh.

Finally – and I think most convincingly of all – who would have thought that when Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise flipped open his ‘communicator’ and said the immortal words: “Beam me up, Scotty!” in the 1960s that only 100 years later we would be beaming around all over the place in  reality, eh?  I mean I know we’re still only going to work or to the shopping mall… and we haven’t quite solved the problem of how to go more than four miles in under a minute without disintegrating yet, but we’re working on it baby.  We’re working on it.  Someone is bound to dream up a brilliant solution sooner or later.  That’s why we dominate the Earth.

News from the archives: 1968 “Today in Memphis Dr Martin Luther King was shot dead by a lone assassin.  But what of it?  As we all know, he was just a dreamer, wasn’t he?”

But as Lennon sang, he’s not the only one.

Now, can you imagine King’s most famous speech being written – or even funnier, being delivered – by Richard Dawkins?  Analytical thinking is all very useful, as far as it goes, but to achieve something like that it takes both vision and passion, and for that we need the wonderful Subconscious Imaginary, which has the power to stir the soul of thousands of people simultaneously and change the world in a single afternoon. For real.  And at a moment like that, any contribution from the poor little conscious mind of any speaker would not have been noticed at all.

On A Lighter Note:

Just have a look at this review of Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was that someone posted on Amazon.co.uk:

This book was hard work. The author sounds very angry, I could feel the tension from the pages as I was reading – it made me want to smoke more. I made a very expensive mistake buying this book. Just wanted to warn others as I had been swayed by the previous comments which were so positive.

(Published 11 months ago by R. A. Mahoney)
Hmm!  The Poor Little Conscious Mind post is fairly typical of the style of the book, so clearly whoever wrote that review has never read any book written by me!  Aren’t people weird?  There’s another couple of reviews that are similar, one of which suggests that all the good reviews have been written by my friends!  No, they’re genuine reviews, and I don’t know any of those people except of course my wife, who edited the book and also commented on the ‘bad’ reviews on Amazon.co.uk.  Anyway I pointed out to the idiot who suggested that I was organising my own reviews that so far there are no reviews at all on Amazon.com, although there are quite a few now on the publishing site (Lulu.com), the Truth Will Out site (see Testimonials) and on Amazon.co.uk.   If I was organising that myself, you’d have thought I’d have got around to putting some on Amazon.com by now, two years after publication!
It seems that a few people would prefer it if no-one read my book!  I know the book looks as if it is very serious – with the skull on the front and everything – but it certainly isn’t angry, in fact most people find it really funny in places.  I like to make things pretty entertaining as well as informative.  On the Read The Book option here on the Truth Will Out site I’ve largely left out the more entertaining bits because I’m trying to be serious here.  This is a campaign website, goddammit!  If you find this stuff interesting don’t forget that you can get a full download version of the book for only five pounds!  (That’s less than eight US dollars.)  Then you don’t have the paperback lying around the house and frightening the children.   Only thing is, you can’t read the download version in the bath. Really wouldn’t advise it, anyway.  If the monitor falls in the water you end up looking like the guy on the cover.  I wouldn’t wish that on anyone who wanted to read my book.  Just the few weirdos who post bogus ‘reviews’ of a book they’ve obviously never read, and tell you I’m a terrible writer!  The cheek!  Why, I oughta…

The Quacks, the Hacks and the Therapists

by Chris Holmes

Edzard Ernst, if we are to believe what certain hacks tell us, is in danger of losing his position at Exeter University – but it has nothing to do with his own behaviour, of course!  This is a link to a particularly lame piece from the Guardian’s Sarah Boseley which tries to suggest that the reason nobody seems to want to fund “the scourge of complementary medicine” is because The Prince of Wales has somehow made it so! Since when did he have the power to forbid the funding of University research, Sarah? Don’t be silly.

After 17 years of CAM-bashing, with hardly anything positive to say about Complementary Medicine at all, it could just be that everyone’s sick to death of the guy, except of course for all the pathological cynics like Sarah Boseley, Simon Singh, Ben Goldacre etc etc who seem to have the simplistic, collective notion that all CAM therapists are “quacks”.  The repeated suggestion they make in the media is that private therapists make vast fortunes by hoodwinking people who, because they are ‘deluded’ or ‘vulnerable’ pay willingly for therapies that they often seem quite happy with – only their opinion doesn’t count, because they’re ‘deluded’. How patronising is that?

The only thing that does count – according to these few self-appointed “quackbusters” – is the relentlessly negative outpourings of Ernst’s unit which can be summed up thus: whatever therapy he’s looking at, after a selective review of previous studies the verdict is that there’s no evidence that it works and it could even be dangerous! Yes, that’s right: it’s more or less the same verdict for everything he looks into!

This is exactly why most open-minded people have stopped taking him seriously. After all, if he were finding the very reverse with the same consistency – that ALL complementary therapies worked – how long would it be before everyone suspected his methods, eh? So he’s left with only the rabid hard-core of New Simple Scientism, which can equally be named Prejudice.

Has it not occurred to any of these people that for many, many years millions of people have been using these therapies and returning to them because they find them effective?  Not only that, but all those people have families and friends who will also have been aware of that, so although it is often said that only 25% of the population use CAM therapies, a hell of a lot more will have heard about the results.  The only people who dismiss those first-hand opinions are pathological cynics, and although those people are often noisy, opinionated and usually rude to anyone who tries to explain that they’ve got it wrong, they are actually in a very small minority.  They are the only people with an axe to grind about all this, and they aren’t doing that for the sake of the people who use CAM therapies at all!  They have nothing but contempt for people who use CAM therapies… but no-one else does.

So Ernst has had an exciting time, drawing attention to himself as the “scourge of Complementary Medicine” as Boseley rather tellingly put it – which is why she approves – forgetting that officially he is supposed to be objective.  But no-one normal who is aware of Ernst at all would ever regard him as impartial, he is quite clearly the champion of the pathological cynics and was from the start, although many people didn’t realise that straight away.

Some of these Ernst Groupies call themselves skeptics, but they are quite wrong to do so.  I work with skeptics all the time, and I don’t find their skepticism a problem at all.  Hypnotherapists are used to the fact that most new clients are skeptical, which is another reason I object to the term “faith-based therapies” which is repeatedly used to denigrate CAM therapies in general. Most of my new clients don’t have any particular faith in hypnotherapy, in fact they are usually very surprised by the results.  Of course we partly have the likes of Ernst to thank for that low level of expectation, but it is also partly caused by the fact that many of my clients will have tried to fix the problem through their own efforts previously with no lasting success, so their conscious expectations are fairly low because of that.

The “faith-based” suggestion is a snidey way of making out that the results don’t go beyond a placebo effect caused by their own delusions, which is extremely patronising and (in the case of hypnotherapy, for sure) utterly inaccurate.  Although the majority of people are fairly skeptical of all unfamiliar things, they are not cynics. Most people who try CAM therapies are simply being practical: if you want to get rid of a problem, you just try one thing after another until you find the thing that works for you.  If the cynics had their way, you wouldn’t have the choice: you would have to take what the doctor recommended even if it kills you (See ‘Trust Me, I’m a Doctor’ on this site, and also the blogpost ‘Daily Mail Article’ in the blog category Drugs On Trial.

When I was growing up, if someone said they were “off to see the quack” they meant the doctor, their General Practitioner.  Lately the word has been used by the cynics and a few opinionated hacks to attack the entire field of Complementary Medicine, and what these people are forgetting is that the only people who will agree with those mocking, patronising and extremely negative and ignorant opinions are the cynics of the world.  Edzard Ernst’s publications haven’t made those people the way they are, they were like that already.  He just gave them – briefly – more credibility because of his bogus title and his academic position, but his “don’t shoot the messenger” suggestion that he uses to deflect criticism is a pathetic attempt to erase himself from “the science”, and nobody with any intelligence will fall for that one!  So, all published studies are simply “the truth” are they, Edzard?  Never mind the intent, never mind the funding, never mind the methodologies… the studies just selected themselves, did they?  The science just happened all by itself, as if by magic, and Ernst is just the guy who told us all what it said, like Moses coming down from the mountain with The Word of God. Yeah, right!

No, Ernst was never a simple messenger, he is an author and an instigator, a collaborator with other anti-CAM extremists and a campaigner against CAM – as Boseley says: “unusually outspoken” and “the scourge of Complementary Medicine”.  Not really what we expected from the first ever Professor of Complementary Medicine, because it is so clearly at odds with the everyday experiences of CAM users.  When those people try to explain that, their views and their attempts to report successes are instantly dismissed just because they did not occur under laboratory conditions.  By contrast, Ernst’s activities are given blanket approval despite the fact that the studies he is looking at never involved any professional CAM therapists and he has never been one himself.

So perhaps the only people who think what he has done is admirable, objective or reliable in any way are the pathological cynics who dismiss ALL complementary therapists as “quacks”.  And those people are in such a small minority that I seriously doubt they could fund his work for very long if they all pitched in together with every penny they have.

No-one else is taking him seriously any more, it seems.  The fact is, we do not need this endlessly negative anti-CAM voice at all, because even if he never published another word on the subject we all know, already, what Edzard Ernst would tell us: “There’s no evidence that it works…” apart from all the millions of people who happily use it, but they don’t count… “…and it could even be dangerous…” although it hardly ever is.  Why would anyone waste their valuable resources generating yet more of that kind of unconvincing drivel after being subjected to seventeen years of it already?  And no-one needs Boseley whining on about it either. “We need this voice” to tell us what to think!  You might, Sarah, but no-one else does, evidently, or people would be willing to fund it without a special appeal from you! (Is there a brain in there anywhere?)

If Ernst and Boseley do find themselves out of work sometime though, I reckon they could get together and reinvent themselves as a Keith Harris and Orville tribute act.  “I wish I could have an original thought, but I can’t!”  “You can!”  “I CAN’T!”

To explain the reference for non-UK dwellers: Ernst could be Keith Harris, a ventriloquist whose dummy is a large and generally clueless baby duck, so of course Edzard provides the voice for both.  And if Boseley doesn’t like the idea of being Orville the duck, maybe she shouldn’t play the role of Ernst’s special media mouthpiece and keep mindlessly repeating the word “quack”.  What goes around comes around Sarah.

Central Hypnotherapy

‘New Poison for Old!’ Part 2

by hypnotherapist Chris Holmes

(Sing!): “What Shall We Do With The Poison Factory…?”

In the original post entitled “New Poison For Old!” I pointed to the amusing phenomenon over recent years of the drug companies who have already spent a lot of money developing the facilities for producing nicotine gum, patches, lozenges, micro-tabs, nasal sprays and suppositories spending research and development cash on probably futile attempts to find a real medical application for this extraordinarily poisonous substance. Good luck with that one guys!

So numerous times over recent years stories have popped up in the medical literature and the press about ‘possible’ new applications for nicotine. The desperate hope of the manufacturers is that the world will accept the daft suggestion (if it is repeated often enough) that nicotine is potentially a useful substance from a medicinal point of view, and ‘looks promising’ in test trials that have nothing to do with the original idea that it might help smokers in some way, which it doesn’t.  Most smokers and nearly all medical experts know that now, and even those few that don’t soon will… so the race is on to find an issue or a condition that might be marginally affected by nicotine in short-term drug trials (if they conduct enough of them!) which is all it takes to get the damn stuff passed as if it were a medication for another spurious use… i.e. exactly what happened with the smoking application in the first place anyway.

All this is driven, not by any attempt at medical advancement, but by the economic reality of having the means of production already up and running but for an application that everyone is fast realising is bogus.  Is, was and always will be – so if they don’t find another use for it quick, the drug companies are going to be left with poison factories that they might as well just dismantle, along with the whole bonkers notion of “therapeutic nicotine” – a phrase that makes about as much sense as “therapeutic cyanide”.

This exercise is like someone trying to develop a new application for the swastika.  It was dangerous and useless enough last time it was popularised, now that it is recognised for what it really is, the last thing the world needs is someone giving it a makeover.

Anyway, to accompany these farcical attempts to find a useful application for what is simply a very deadly poison, I penned this little ditty which is loosely based on “What Shall we Do With The Drunken Sailor?”

What shall we do with the poison patches, What shall we do with the poison patches, What shall we do with the poison patches,  Now that we’ve been rumbled?

Quick, in-vent new uses, Quick, in-vent new uses, Quick, in-vent new uses – Must be good for something!

We need a use for the Poison Factory, We need a use for the Poison Factory, We need a use for the Poison Factory… Cost a bloody fortune!

Might it help asthmatics?  Might it help asthmatics? Might it help asthmatics?  – No?  Then try depression!

Feel down?  Try our patches!  Feel down? Try our patches! Feel down? Try our patches!  Just as ‘good’ as Prozac.

Nicotine may help your memory, Nicotine may help your memory, Nicotine may help your memory… Forget it’s a poison!

(Faster) Now try schizophrenics… Next those with Alzheimers… Wind? Cramp? Shyness? Baldness?  – Useless bloody poison!

What shall we do with the Poison Factory? What shall we do with the Poison Factory? What shall we do with the Poison Factory, Now that we’ve been rumbled?

Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was

Central Hypnotherapy