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Old 30th Nov 2006, 10:49   #1
HP
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Default Allen Carr - R.I.P.

Terribly sad to learn today of the death of Allen Carr, the 'quit-smoking guru', as The Times calls him. Like millions of other ex-smokers, I owe this fella big time. Fifteen years ago, after twenty years of smoking like the proverbial chimney, I chanced upon a video tape he'd made called, Allen Carr's Easy Way to Give Up Smoking (or similar). I'd already decided I needed to quit, but having made numerous other failed bids to do so, was full of doom and gloom about my chances of ever successfully kicking the habit. All the dire warnings in the press, from doctors, from so-called experts, from friends, had had little effect to date and, to be honest, just depressed me further. (Btw, nagging and whingeing at a smoker because of their habit is about the least helpful thing you can do, trust me!). But Carr's approach was a revelation. He didn't bother with all the scare tactics, nor all the incentive twaddle about having more money, smelling nicer etc - he simply went straight to the heart of the matter: why do you smoke? And every familiar reason that the hardened puffer comes up with (it relaxes me; it's my reward after hard work; it helps me concentrate - blah, blah, blah) - he knocked into a cocked hat. Bollocks, dear smoker, was the tone of his response, those are all conveniently erected smoke-screens (so, shoot me!) for the real and very unpalatable truth: you are an addict, that's all. Smoking, he pointed out, only relaxes you, because you are uptight thanks to withdrawal symptoms from the last cigarette; it's only a reward after hard work, because you've been made to wait for your next fix; it only helps you concentrate because the withdrawal symptoms from your last cigarette are distracting you and lighting up removes that distraction ... and so forth. Every argument the smoker comes up with reduced to the core truth - each and every cigarette is nothing more than a fix for your addiction. He also pointed out something which helped me no end and proved invaluable in getting me through that first hellish week: namely, that all physical withdrawal symptoms are gone after just 5 days. After that, the body, at least, will leave you in peace; it is only in your mind that the habit and longing can exist after those 5 days. And, very cleverly he pointed out that the sheer joy of knowing you are free of that wretched addiction, from the tyranny of having to light up every hour, of scrabbling around making sure you never run out of your fix should be so great that the mind is happy to lose the habit and longing. That I could relate to without any effort. But how nice to have someone focus on the positive mental aspect of quitting, rather than the boring, well-trodden, an utterly ineffective physical gains argument used by so many anti-smoking types. So, wanting that peace of mind badly enough and knowing that if I quit on a Monday I'd be physically free from withdrawal symptoms by the following weekend, I suddenly knew I could do it. Hallelujah! At last, here was someone who was offering me a finite period of suffering that felt eminently do-able. Of course, as is the tedious way of things, his methods have been scorned or criticised by so-called experts and many of the medical profession, but his success rate has been such, it simply makes those negative types look mealy-mouthed and daft. Quite simply he knew and understood his patients far better than his detractors did.

And so it came to pass: on my 37th birthday I woke up and, for the first time in twenty years, I didn't light up. This was a Sunday. By Wednesday I was scaling the walls, tearing my hair out and could have cried with sheer frustration and rage and hateful longing, but sure enough by Friday, just as Mr Carr had predicted, I was sane again; and by Saturday evening, I knew I'd licked it. Better than that - I knew I could be perfectly happy and content without those wretched little white sticks. It was done. Apologies for the very long-winded ramble, but the point is this: I am totally convinced that without his help, his very unique and compelling way of addressing this addiction, my life would have been severely curtailed, as my mother's was, who died of lung cancer aged 69 (a lifelong smoker who never did get round to watching his video, despite my imploring her to do so). How horribly ironic that Allen Carr, himself, should then succumb and die of lung cancer. But having poisoned his lungs with a 100-a-day habit for years (which is why he understood the smoker's mentality so well), and then to have sat in with hoardes of smokers, all puffing frantically away, as he gently but very firmly led them to their moment of nicotine epiphany, I guess it's not too surprising. But it goes without saying, there will be many, many others, like me, who owe him a huge debt of gratitude. Allen Carr: R.I.P. indeed. I for one, salute you.


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The TimesNovember 30, 2006
Allen Carr

September 2, 1934 - November 29, 2006
Author whose controversial Easyway books and clinics helped millions to stop smoking

“Do you have a feeling of doom and gloom? Forget it. I’ve achieved some marvellous things in my life. By far the greatest was to escape from the slavery of nicotine addiction.”

Allen Carr’s introduction to the third edition of his Easy Way to Stop Smoking could double as his epitaph. While his impending death from lung cancer was seen by many as a cruel irony and by others as a signal for sainthood, Carr remained faithful to his emphasis on positive thinking.

He had spent years in clinic with the secondhand smoke of addicts who, as part of his Easy Way of giving up, were encouraged to indulge their habit throughout the sessions. If that was the cause of his cancer it was, he said, a reasonable price to pay for ten million reprieved.
Carr had smoked himself; this former dependence lent sympathy and credibility to his quest. He grew up in a working-class family in Putney, southwest London, and gained a scholarship to the local grammar school. He completed his National Service with the RAF and trained as an accountant with Peat Marwick, qualifying in 1958. He had started smoking as a teenager and, by the time he had become a successful accountant, he was nursing a 100-a-day habit.

His attempts to cut down usually meant allowing himself one cigarette an hour, spending “ten minutes of each hour in bliss and the other fifty waiting for the next cigarette”. He once gave up for “six months of purgatory” before succumbing, in tears, to his vice. He determined to find a better approach and, two years later, he had constructed his Easyway method.

Quickly convinced by its efficacy, he told his wife that he was never going to smoke again. Better yet, he would cure the world of smoking.

He left his job to set up his own clinic in Southwest London, without any formal training. Two years later he had written his book, The Easy Way to Stop Smoking. Unable to find a publisher, he borrowed money from his friend Sid Sutton and published it himself. Today there are clinics in 33 countries and territories and his book has sold seven million copies.

His method emphasised that the cigarette did not give relief from everyday stress, merely relief from the withdrawal symptoms caused by the previous cigarette. Non-smokers, he assured his clients, felt this relief all the time. The biggest barrier to quitting, he believed, was fear: fear of discomfort, fear of social awkwardness, and fear of the self-loathing when an attempt to quit fails. Carr aimed to break this cycle, encouraging his clients to smoke through their treatment sessions; his readers to puff away as they turned the pages. Smokers were invited, as they read through Carr’s deconstruction of the weed, to reach their own epiphany: look dispassionately at what they were doing and decide that it was futile to continue.

Critics have pointed out that Carr’s key points could fit on to five pages rather than 140. Indeed, he makes few arguments against smoking that had not been aired more vociferously elsewhere. But the process of reading the book, chapter by chapter, exposes the smoker to the sort of suggestion, repetition and association found in hypnotherapy, which Carr also practised in his clinic sessions and in his home.

To many, his methods seemed counterintuitive. The medical establishment was largely convinced that some degree of suffering was necessary to stop smoking. An “easy way”, that told people that quitting did not need to be punitive — indeed, warned them that “cold turkey” methods would fail — seemed like a con; like one of the fad diets that promised weight loss without dieting or exercise. Carr’s sympathy for smokers and his antipathy towards nanny-state coercion put him at loggerheads with officialdom and with groups such as Action on Smoking and Health. He poured scorn on no-smoking days and on the total smoking ban.

“Smokers are fed up of being pushed around and made to feel like lepers,” he said after the ban was passed into law. “Smoking bans won’t work.”
Neither was Carr overmodest about his achievements, sometimes sounding exasperated that the Government preferred to use fear and scare tactic advertising or nicotine patches than to look into his own methods, for which he claimed a 95 per cent success rate. “Can you imagine if there were ten different ways of treating appendicitis?” he wrote. “Nine of them cured 10 per cent of the patients, which means that they killed 90 per cent of them, and the tenth way cured 95 per cent. Imagine that knowledge of the tenth way had been available for 14 years, but the vast majority of the medical establishment was still recommending the other nine.”

His easy way, later branded as Easyway, gained testimonials from Sir Richard Branson, Sir Anthony Hopkins and big corporate clients who had bought clinical sessions for their staff. His claimed success rate, backed by money-back guarantee, had its detractors, some pointing out that many clients whose treatment was paid for by their employers had no interest in offering feedback or claiming a refund.

The NHS remained unconvinced; the reluctance of policymakers to meet him or discuss his methods caused him a great deal of anger. This he exorcised in his last book, Scandal. He described it as “the book that the Government, Department of Health, the NHS, ASH and Quit do not want you to read”. As yet unpublished, he made it available for download on his website before his death.

Carr also published Allen Carr’s How to be a Happy Non-Smoker, Allen Carr’s Easyway for Women to Stop Smoking, Allen Carr’s Easyweigh to Lose Weight and Allen Carr’s Easyway to Control Alcohol. In later life he spent most of his time at his house near M├ílaga in Spain. He is survived by his second wife, Joyce, four children and two step-children.

Allen Carr, self-help author, was born on September 2, 1934. He died on November 29, 2006, aged 72
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Old 30th Nov 2006, 10:52   #2
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Default Re: Allen Carr - R.I.P.

Poor fella. He helped my Mrs. stop as well.
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Old 30th Nov 2006, 11:13   #3
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Default Re: Allen Carr - R.I.P.

Having given up smoking about three months ago I don't think Mr Carr's method would have worked for me. I was never a heavy smoker - never the sort to wake up and light up and could go for days sometimes without a fag. However the one thing that has struck me since giving up is simply that smoking is nice. The act of lighting up and inhaling tobacco smoke is intrinsically a pleasant one and whilst I have no intention of starting again there is always going to be a part of me that regrets the passing of one of life's pleasures.
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Old 30th Nov 2006, 11:19   #4
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Default Re: Allen Carr - R.I.P.

I also salute Allen Carr. I read the EASYWAY book back in 2005 and, after a short-lived break, started again. But, when Hogmanay came I stopped and haven't looked back.
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Old 30th Nov 2006, 11:24   #5
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Default Re: Allen Carr - R.I.P.

yjmli and Stewart: yay! two more satisfied AC customers!

jim: give it time. I had fond memories of it for a while. And although I gave up, my mother and father and brother didn't, and for a long time it didn't bother me sitting in a room with even all three of them smoking. But as your system gets used to being smoke-free, it becomes far more sensitive to smokey conditions and you may well find yourself loathing it in due course. I do. Can't breathe easily and the smell of stale tobacco is just appalling. Daft thing is, for up to eight or more years after I quit, I still had recurring dreams where I would look down and find a lit ciggie in my fingers - followed by an instant wave of despair that I must have started again. On waking, the relief at finding that was not so was absolutely overwhelming.
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Old 30th Nov 2006, 12:00   #6
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Default Re: Allen Carr - R.I.P.

I actually stopped cigarettes in 1975, but I had the occasional cigar after that for about 4 years. Then I just forgot about it in my conscious life. But I STILL smoke quite a lot in dreams. It's really quite a healthy way to smoke, I find. You get all the pleasure without the health and financial downsides.
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Old 30th Nov 2006, 12:11   #7
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Default Re: Allen Carr - R.I.P.

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Originally Posted by gil View Post
But I STILL smoke quite a lot in dreams. It's really quite a healthy way to smoke, I find. You get all the pleasure without the health and financial downsides.
As long as you don't sleepwalk your way to th cigar box and back and set fire to your sheets, gil!

I remember as a kid being sent out to buy my mother's cigs quite often. One time I bought these mail order things from the back of a comic called cigarette stinkeroos. They were like the lead from pencils long, thin dark sticks that the instructions said you should poke into the substance of the cigs. I still remember my mother storming up in the most livid rage with a godawful stench emenating from her fag.
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Old 30th Nov 2006, 12:16   #8
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Default Re: Allen Carr - R.I.P.

I think I'll have to give his book a try. I smoke far too much and I really enjoy smoking. I also can't afford to smoke and in the winter I get a cough like a coal miner. But I just adore smoking. No matter that it's unattractive, makes your fingers, clothes, hair smell, costs a fortune and will probably kill me, I just get so much pleasure out of it.
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Old 30th Nov 2006, 12:32   #9
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Default Re: Allen Carr - R.I.P.

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I just get so much pleasure out of it.
No you don't, according to Carr. You're an addict, and all that's happening is you're getting your fix, so the withdrawal symptoms go away for a while. All you need to do is train yourself to dream about it!
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Old 30th Nov 2006, 12:37   #10
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Originally Posted by gil View Post
No you don't, according to Carr. You're an addict, and all that's happening is you're getting your fix, so the withdrawal symptoms go away for a while. All you need to do is train yourself to dream about it!
I dream about it already!!
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