The possibility of Freedom
Article by Georgina Beadon
Is it possible for free will to grow in an individual? Or are our actions determined from birth or from a young age? Its an ongoing argument amoung philosophers, and has been for hundreds of years, as to whether we are essentially determined in our actions, be it by fate or destiny, God, cause and effect or by psychology.
I think, along with others, that there is no hard line answer about whether we are determined or not: individuals vary in degree in their personal freedom.
I think this is because i have witnessed my own growth through the medium of psychoanalysis, the process of self-awareness. I think most individuals are determined by the way they are brought up by their parents or close members of their family: if we have messed up parents that can’t cope with confrontation or pain or something, we pick up on their behaviour as we know no better. Equally, if we have well balanced parents, our chances of being well balanced ourselves are higher as we learn better coping processes.
Either way if we arn’t brought up to analyze ourselves, to observe our thoughts, feelings and behaviour, we beceome determined in our lives by the coping processes we have learnt at a young age. If my mother can’t cope with confrontation and shuts down, ignoring the confronter, i too learn to shut down in the face of confrontation. When i reach adulthood, i cannot confront the retailer who short changes me or rips me off as i do not know how to adequately deal with confrontation. My adult life is determined by the psychological patterns i have picked up as a child.
This example is one i have been struggling with personally. Without years of psychoanalysis and self-awareness i would have carried on shutting down and not being able to deal with confrontation. By being shown my behaviour I analyze myself more, why I acted like that, where I may have learnt that behaviour from and why. And most importantly, to question whether this behaviour is really me, the me that is struggling to be free from my determined, adapted behaviour.
By analyzing my thoughts etc. I then have an option as to whether to act on my impulses: I have a choice, I see another way of being that I may not have seen before. Through self-awareness I see the possibility of acting differently, of letting the real me out without adapted behaviour, I see the possibility of freedom. By becoming self-aware we have more options in life, we need not be determined by our adapted behaviour, the ways we learnt to cope as children.
I know my freedom and, subsequently, my level of satisfaction and happiness in life has definitely increased since I started becoming aware of my own processes. I am becoming more free with every question I ask of myself and I know now that its the only way to Be.
Student at university of london, studying philosophy, also training to be a counsellor. 22, lives in Essex.