The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs

I would highly recommend the recent BBC documentary, “The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs.”

Dr Chris van Tulleken, of “Trust Me, I’m a Doctor” fame, encourages patients at a London surgery to stop using medication to control symptoms. Instead, they are asked to explore the causes of their problems – and to discover more empowering, long term solutions.

I found the story of the woman with chronic back pain, who discovered martial arts; and that of the woman with chronic depression who started cold-water swimming particularly inspiring.

Doctor van Tulleken exposes the links between GP’s surgeries, pharmaceutical companies and free lunches. He takes an online depression test himself, explaining how negative questioning tilts results in a particular direction. And why this might happen.

Brave, refreshing, perhaps even revolutionary television.




How I Stopped Smoking For Good

Stop Smoking For Good

Stop Smoking For Good

One sunny afternoon in 2011, Debbie, our teacher asked whether there were any smokers in the room. Myself and two other hypnotherapy students, Charlotte and Ross[1], warily raised our hands. The teacher then asked whether we wanted to stop smoking. Myself and Ross admitted that we did not, leaving Charlotte, to “volunteer” for a session of “Stopping Smoking Through Hypnotherapy” with Debbie.

In fact, I did want to stop smoking. I just wasn’t convinced that now would be a good time. But instead of simply observing, with the rest of the students, I allowed myself to be hypnotized along with Charlotte, closing my eyes, relaxing deeply and engaging with the teacher’s trance induction.

Debbie was highly competent and quick thinking. Having asked Charlotte a few personal questions, she was able to create a bespoke hypnotherapy session, right there on the spot. Much of the hypnotic suggestion was personal to Charlotte, but when Debbie started talking about growths on the tongue and cancer of the throat, her words seemed to sear themselves directly into my subconscious mind.

I already knew that smoking can lead to slow and painful death – who doesn’t? But before that day, I’d always felt that other people would be unlucky – not me. Suddenly, I was on the spot. I had been a smoker for twenty years. And under hypnosis, I was afraid. My throat went dry and my tongue tingled. Blood beat in my ears. Why do you smoke? I was thinking, Why do you do this terrible thing to yourself?

When Debbie brought Charlotte (and me) back into full consciousness, my forehead was damp with sweat. At break time, instead of heading outside for a cigarette as usual, I headed to the Gents. In front of the mirror, I anxiously examined my mouth and tongue for lesions or growths. Thankfully, there did not seem to be any damage.

Smoking is a hugely addictive habit and I did continue to smoke, intermittently, for a few weeks. But the fear ignited by Debbie’s words proved stronger than my attachment to cigarettes. Long before the summer’s end, I had stopped forever and I knew it. I can vividly recall the last time I touched a cigarette. The certainty that I would never touch another is still with me, five years later. I have absolutely no desire to smoke.

Where other techniques had failed, hypnotherapy worked for me. I became – and remain – a passionate non-smoker. For this reason, I am committed to helping others stop smoking forever, through hypnotherapy.

[1] Events are real, names are fictitious

Stop Smoking For Good

Stop Smoking For Good


Question: Can hypnotherapy help you to stop smoking – for good?

Answer: Yes, provided you are already highly motivated.

I smoked for over twenty-five years and hypnotherapy played a fundamental part in my stopping for good. If your motivation is strong, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence in support of the efficacy of hypnotherapy in smoking cessation:

However, before deciding to embark upon a course of hypnotherapy – or any other smoking cessation strategy – I believe that you should take a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror. Then ask yourself the following questions: “Do I really want to stop smoking – now?” “Do I really want to stop smoking – for good?”

If the honest answer to both questions is “yes” then I am convinced that hypnotherapy can help you. It has the added advantages of being generally enjoyable (based as it is upon relaxation); drug free; and relatively rapid (between one and four sessions should suffice).

The benefits of stopping smoking are huge. In addition to increased lung power, better skin, more money, losing my smoker’s cough and ridding myself of pins-and-needles, I have discovered that I am better able to concentrate – and generally happier, as a non-smoker.

I would probably have stopped for good even without hypnotherapy. But I believe that it would have taken me longer and been a more painstaking process. In the event, one hypnotherapy session was enough to convince me that I need never, ever, smoke again.

If you are committed to stopping smoking for good, I wish you the best of luck!

New Fathers Experience Mental Health Problems

Research by the NCT, coinciding with Father’s Day, has revealed that over a third of new fathers are worried about their mental health:

One of the main reasons behind these findings is men’s unwillingness to talk about their feelings. This unwillingness is understandable – many men have been taught, from a very young age, that there is something “unmanly” about sharing feelings, or even having them in the first place.

A strategy of “keeping calm and carrying on” may sometimes serve men well. But when “manning up” just doesn’t seem to be working – for instance, during the period immediately before, and after the birth of a child – more men need to follow another well known piece of advice:

“It’s good to talk”.

(Wasn’t it well-known Cockney geezer, Bob Hoskins, who said that?)


Talking Can Save Your Life

Around one hundred men kill themselves in the UK each week. Men are four times more likely to kill themselves than women. More middle aged men kill themselves than any other group.


Why do so many men commit suicide? Or, to put it another way: why comparatively so few women?


The answer, according to Panorama (BBC 1, 13/4/15) is that men are conditioned not to talk about their feelings. Changing this – talking, crying, letting it all out – can indeed save lives. Women, it seems, have always been better able to do this. Counsellors and psychotherapists have their roles here but so too do family and friends. Talking is not “weak” or “unmanly”. And not talking can be deadly.


Watch Panorama: A brief but well-constructed examination of this topic.

Exercise Your Mental Health



Incorporating regular exercise into your weekly routine is a great way to reduce stress, stave off depression and generally look and feel more healthy. It is also a way in which you can be alone, if this is important to you.

Running is perfect for me, because it is so simple and requires so little equipment (a pair of trainers, a t-shirt and some shorts). It also legitimizes me being alone, for an hour or so. Something essential for my mental health.

You may not need regular and frequent time alone but if you are mildly depressed or anxious, or suffering from any form of stress, I recommend that you get running, swimming or cycling. Yoga is also a fantastic form of exercise – for body, mind and spirit.

The more scientifically minded should check out the NHS website: Here, a GP recommends exercise for better mental health.

Depression – Loss, Rage, Hope


My favourite piece of writing on depression is William Styron’s “Darkness Visible” (Vintage Books, 1992, 84 pages). A first-hand account of what it is really like to experience this life-threatening illness. Clear-eyed yet beautifully written, it has been helping people feel less alone (with depression) for twenty-five years. It has the added advantage of great brevity. Read every word.



Kraftwerk: Wunderbar


Best band ever? Most votes would go to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin. Wrong. The answer is Kraftwerk. Here’s why:

1. Listen to any pop music station; go into any clothes shop; absorb an advert; dance in a club – chances are that the music you are hearing has been influenced by Kraftwerk.
2. Kraftwerk have a European, rather than American, sensibility. There is nothing wrong with American popular music – some of it is great. But Kraftwerk don’t ape Americana, they sing from their own culture and in the process, they influence the culture of others.
3. Unlike the Stones say, Kraftwerk have given to black American music, rather than taken from it. Just listen to any House or Techno. Kraftwerk will be in there somewhere.
4. Kraftwerk’s blend of the folk music of the past with the found noises of the present creates music that still sounds futuristic. The Beatles always sound like the 1960s. Kraftwerk’s time has not yet come.
5. Tired of the chest beating, male posturing of rock? Tired of the consumerism and homophobia of hip hop? Tired of the phoniness of The X Factor? Turn to Kraftwerk – always kind, always gentle, always inclusive, always real.
6. What links Derrick May, David Bowie, Donna Summer, Daft Punk, Afrika Bambaataa, Madonna, New Order, Autechre to just about all the best pop music of the last forty years? Answer: It isn’t Led Zeppelin.
7. “Trans Europe Express”

Read this interesting Telegraph article about Kraftwerk by Paul Morley


Celebrities pledge to talk about mental health problems

Celebrities like Stephen Fry, The Wanted and Rebecca Front talk about mental health problems like depression and why it’s important to be open.

Celebrities - Alastair Campbell - Cycling - Photoshoot for general market use - DSC 6187

Alastair Campbell talks about depression

Former political aide and author, Alastair Campbell recalls the conversation he had with former prime minister Tony Blair about his experiences of depression and why talking is important for social change.

Read Alastair’s story


Ruby Wax - Sane New World

Ruby Wax

Ruby Wax has experienced episodes of depression for most of her life, but it wasn’t until she finally checked into a clinic, that she realised how widespread mental health problems are: “It’s so common, it could be anyone. The trouble is, nobody wants to talk about it. And that makes everything worse.”

Read Ruby’s story


Stephen Fry visits Bletchley Park

Stephen Fry talks about bipolar disorder and mental health stigma

Stephen Fry has experienced mental health problems for much of his life. But it wasn’t until he was 37 that he was finally diagnosed withbipolar disorder. “I’d never heard the word before, but for the first time I had a diagnosis that explains the massive highs and miserable lows I’ve lived with all my life.”

Read Stephen’s story