Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Why people smoke cigarettes?

What is the nature of this psychological pleasure? It can be traced to the universal desire for self-expression. None of us ever completely outgrows his childhood. We are constantly hunting for the carefree enjoyment we knew as children. As we grew older, we had to subordinate our pleasures to work and to the necessity for unceasing effort. Smoking, for many of us, then, became a substitute for our early habit of following the whims of the moment; it becomes a legitimate excuse for interrupting work and snatching a moment of pleasure. "You sometimes get tired of working intensely," said an accountant whom we interviewed, "and if you sit back for the length of a cigarette, you feel much fresher afterwards. It's a peculiar thing, but I wouldn't think of just sitting back without cigarettes. I guess a cigarette somehow gives me a good excuse."
Most of us are hungry for rewards. We want to be patted on the back. A cigarette is a reward that we can give ourselves as often as we wish. When we have done anything well, for instance, we can congratulate ourselves with a cigarette, which certifies, in effect, that we have been "good boys." We can promise ourselves: "When I have finished this piece of work, when I have written the last page of my report, I'll deserve a little fun. I'll have a cigarette."
As we have said, to explain the pleasure derived from smoking as taste experience alone, is not sufficient. For one thing, such an explanation leaves out the powerful erotic sensitivity of the oral zone. Oral pleasure is just as fundamental as sexuality and hunger. It functions with full strength from earliest childhood.
A cigarettes not only measures time, but also seems to make time pass more rapidly. That is why waiting periods almost autuomatically stimulate the desire to smoke. But a deeper explanation of this function of smoking is based on the fact that smoking is ersatz activity. Impatience is a common feature of our times, but there are many situations which compel us to be patient. When we are in a hurry, and yet have to wait, a cigarette gives us something to do during that trying interval. The experience of wanting to act, but being unable to do so, is very unpleasant and may even, in extreme cases, cause attacks of nervous anxiety. Cigarettes may then have a psychotherapeutic effect. This helps to explain why soldiers, waiting for the signal to attack, sometimes value a cigarette more than food.
The companionable character of cigarettes is also reflected in the fact that they help us make friends. In many ways, smoking has the same effect drinking has. It helps to break down social barriers.
The mind can concentrate best when all outside stimuli have been excluded. Smoking literally provides a sort of "smoke screen" that helps to shut out distractions. This explains why many people who were interviewed reported that they cannot think or write without a cigarette. They argued that moderate smoking may even stimulate mental alertness. It gives us a focal point for our attention. It also gives our hands something to do; otherwise they might make us self-conscious and interfere with mental activity. On the other hand, our respondents admit that smoking too much may reduce their efficiency.
One shortcoming of our modern culture is the universal lack of adequate relaxation. Many of us not only do not know how to relax, but do not take time to learn. cigarettes helps us to relax because, like music, it is rhythmic. Smoking gives us a legitimate excuse to linger a little longer after meals, to stop work for a few minutes, to sit at home without doing anything that requires effort.
Smoking brings relief. Worry, anxiety, depress us not only psychologically but also physiologically. When a person feels depressed, the rhythm of his breathing becomes upset. A short and shallow breath creates a heavy feeling in the chest. Smoking may relieve mental depression by forcing a rhythmic expansion of the breast and thus restoring the normal pace of breathing. The "weight on the chest" is removed.
This connection between smoking and respiration accounts for the common expression, smoking makes us breath more steadily, and thus calms us down.