Showing posts from August, 2011

Smoking cessation as a result of a natural experiment - linking smoking to seasickness

In Stanley Kubrick's film A Clockwork Orange (based on the novel by Anthony Burgess), the protagonist, Alex, undergoes operant conditioning, or aversion therapy, to modify his (ultra)violent tendencies. He's forced to watch film clips with violent scenes while drugged, and thus develops a strong negative response to violence. The movie and the novel raise questions about the morality of such treatments while at the same time illustrating their efficacy.

I had an analogous experience where something of this sort happened to me - really quite by accident - and I always thought it was an interesting bit of psychology/physiology and, unlike the scenario depicted in the movie and the novel, there are no troubling moral issues.

This is because at the age of 18, I developed a strong association between cigarette smoking and seasickness, with the net result that I haven't touched another cigarette for going on 40 years. Moreover, I retain strong negative associations to even such t…