According to some German scientists, smoking makes you anxious and paranoid. Here’s a quick summary of what they did to
invent arrive at this conclusion.
They showed volunteers a series of images, just symbols, but some symbols gave them an electric shock when displayed. The volunteers soon learned to anticipate the shock when the symbol appeared. So far, so Pavlovian. Nothing contentious there.
So now they have a group with a ‘learned fear response’. This, they seem to believe, is a bad thing. It’s the response that stops you poking your finger into a flame a second time. The response that makes you steer well clear of tigers and other things that might eat you. Yet, to these scientists, being afraid of something that hurts is a bad thing.
They then showed the volunteers the same symbols but without the electric shocks and with reassurances that ‘all is well’, The smokers tended to flinch at the symbols anyway, despite the reassurances.
Now, from this they conclude that smoking is bad because smokers don’t just accept the reassurances. Smoking, they say, inhibits your ability to suppress a fear response.
Hypothetical stiuation – some bearded loony is running at you with a machete shouting ‘Allahu akbar but it’s okay, I’m from the religion of peace’. Is it better to suppress your fear response because of reassuring words, or is if better to run like buggery and let the idiot who believes the words get sliced into halal bacon?
I’m a smoker. I’ll hang on to my learned fear response, thank you very much.
The ‘fear response’ is not the same thing as PTSD. That’s where they are making their fundamental error. PTSD needs a cure. It’s debilitating. The fear response does not need a cure. It’s a normal and natural part of being a human. In fact, any animal. Suppressing the fear response means developing people who will stick their finger in the flame a second time and who will try to cuddle tigers.
I seem to recall reading about a condition – might be considered the opposite of PTSD – where people have no ability to feel fear and do not learn from being hurt. That’s a pretty dangerous condition to have. Should we all aspire to be so fearless that we will walk back into a burning house because we think we’ve left the gas on?
A big confounder in this whole experiment is that smokers have a ‘fear response’ to the entire medical profession that has been drummed into us over decades. We know they hate us – it’s not paranoia, they are in the news every day delighting in new ways to make our lives miserable. So when a doctor says ‘Now this time we won’t electrocute you’, the smoker is far less likely to believe it. Basically, medical profession, we don’t trust you, and you made that happen.
The nonsmoker has no such conditioned response. They don’t take their septic finger to the doctor knowing they will be nagged about how smoking causes septic fingers and be told a lot of lies about how they have to give up smoking or the antibiotics won’t work. The smoker forced to interact with the medical world now does so from an initial position of anxiety that is caused not by smoking, but by the incessant nagging.
The article goes on to bemoan how PTSD sufferers smoke much more than us laid back hippie layabout smokers, and calls for ‘interventions’ to stop them. Interventions to stop anyone in a job such as the military, fire service or police from smoking in case their smoking triggers PTSD.
They are claiming smoking causes PTSD. Not attending a crime scene where the walls are decorated with blood and three sets of intestines are tastefully arranged into a semblance of a Christmas tree. No, it’s smoking that gives you PTSD. Not combing through a burning building, knowing it might collapse at any moment just as you come face to face with a charred corpse. Not cowering under heavy shellfire and watching your best mate blown into a thousand pieces right in front of you. No, it’s the smoking we have to deal with.
Seriously. They want to stop soldiers smoking because that’s the biggest danger they face. They want to stop police officers smoking becasue being stabbed by a loony is not so bad, really. The best one is still the firemen. The ones who routinely venture into clouds of choking smoke and flame are not allowed to burn half a gram of leaves and inhale.
This piece of research clearly had the conclusion ‘smoking is bad’ prewritten. It does nothing to advance any kind of treatment for PTSD or anything else. The only thing it advances is the antismoking agenda. Soon you will not be allowed to join the police, military or fire brigade if you smoke.
As the experiment has shown, only those whose natural fear response can be easily overridden will be allowed into those professions. They are the ones who will take unnecessary risks that will put themselves and their colleagues in danger. The smoker who says ‘Whoa, hang on, if we do that we’ll probably die’ is to be banned from the professions altogether.
Military, fire service, police. Three professions where the alleged dangers of smoking are utterly trivial when set against the dangers they face every day. Yet here we have a piece of ‘research’ designed to eliminate smoking from those professions.
Puritanism. It’s the answer to everything now.