This is the 2007 version. Click here for the 2017 chapter 14 table of contents.


Daniel Schachter created a mini-controversy in the 1980s by arguing that psychologists underestimated the number of successful self-cures for addictive behavior. A self-cure occurs when somebody "kicks a habit" through his or her own efforts without seeing a therapist or joining a group. People come to a psychologist only if they have failed to quit on their own, Schachter pointed out. This leads psychologists to underestimate the efficacy of self-cure.

What was Schachter's recommendation, to encourage self-cure of addiction?

Schachter found there was a large population of ex-addicted people who had never seen a therapist or joined a group. Some had overcome a weight problem, which Schachter defined as losing ten or more pounds and keeping it off. Some had ended a cigarette addiction without professional help. Most had failed a few times before they finally succeeded. This led Schachter to suggest that the key to quitting was persistence. He recommended that a person simply keep trying, not getting discouraged by failures, until finally something works and permanent change is achieved.

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