Outsmarting Yourself: How to NOT Quit Smoking

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Text comes from: Warum uns das Denken nicht in den Kopf will: Noch mehr nützliche Erkenntnisse der Alltagspsychologie (2013) by Dr. Volker Kitz, Prof. Dr. Manuel Tusch, published by Heyne Verlag, Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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You should not think about purple cows and white bears. But just because you should not think about it, her brain has been constantly busy with the cow or the bear. Right? What's going on in your brain?


Here writes for you:


Prof. Dr. Manuel TuschDr. Manuel Tusch Professor at the Münster University of Applied Sciences and director of the IfAP.


From the author:




Here writes for you:


Dr. Volker Kitz fawnDr. Volker Kitz is Spiegel-Best-selling author, psychologist and ex-lobbyist.


White bears and red Volkswagen

In another experiment, the subjects are told to think of a red Volkswagen every time the white bear appears. As a result, the white bear does not disappear. But this time the fallback effect is much weaker.

We call this “diversion” to a very specific, always the same alternative idea in technical terms a “focused distraction”.

Ironic processes in action

Ironic processes occur not only in thoughts, but also in actions. If, for example, subjects are given a pendulum in their hands, and they tell them that they should not let it slip in any particular direction, then they do exactly that.

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You can not suppress it. The effect is particularly strong if the subjects are to do another task, for example, counting backwards from 1.000 in three steps or holding a heavy brick in the other hand.

How not to quit smoking

Because many people never hold a pendulum in their hands, the phenomenon has now been checked and confirmed by more everyday things:

If smokers are allowed to suppress their thoughts on cigarettes for a week, they smoke a lot more than a comparison group, which should not suppress their thoughts. And anyone who is not supposed to think of chocolate for five minutes eats something much more than someone who just gave his thoughts free rein.

What's happening?

It is assumed that two processes are running at the same time: unconsciously we are driving a control program, which constantly monitors whether the prohibited thought occurs somewhere.

A second, conscious program should then suppress the thought as soon as the control program alerts the alarm.

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The forbidden is constantly present

Unconsciously the prohibited thought is constantly present - because the unconscious program must know what to look for. It is almost always with a phantom image of the forbidden through the area.

And this unconscious presence sometimes gains the upper hand over our consciousness - especially when consciousness is occupied with other things.

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  1. Regina Jobst

    Mind Control is a really exciting topic!

  2. Competencepartner

    Mind Control & Ironic Processes - 2/3: How NOT to quit smoking: In the first part… #Profession #Education

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