Postby drlynch on Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:43 pm

Postby drlynch on 11 Jul 2007 09:08 pm

[ This was first post on a "Psychohistory" list and is a gerenral statement about what I think about "free will". ]

I have approached this subject in within the confines of speaking of "shame" several times in this space.

Might PH be misguided? I think this article on "free will" points up much that is correct in current thinking and leaves out much. I, on the whole, would not be here if I did not think much, in fact 90% of what PH has to offer holds a lot of water. I do think, however, something is missing. We all have our biases and as I just recently wrote in a memorandum we would indeed all fall apart if we did not have our "interests" and beliefs. We need a point of view.

So I think what is missing in the article and in PH is an appreciation of innate "affect" or "feeling".

So we all have our point of view and as such they are, I have come to believe, hardly ever changed. Interesting thought. But if we really think about it we hardly ever change anyone's mind. We, it seems, tend to change our own minds, more than anything, when we are ready and who knows when that will be.

So that said I have come to really think that "reason" is the most overblown concept that it itself has created and along with it "free will". It was inevitable, as again without the belief that we are in control well, what is the alternative? Well, that we are not in control and if we do have the power of reason how tolerable would that be? Not very. So a conundrum, the conundrum.

But to get out of it, at least a bit I think the trick is to appreciate the whole system and that is what an appreciation of how the affective system and reason work together. I think we have a lot of that knowledge now. It does not have to be an either or proposition, reason or emotion. Silvan Tomkins gives us the refrain "reason with out affect(feeling) is sterile and affect with out reason is wild". Martha Nussbaum writes elegantly of emotion having a "judging" capacity. I believe that is exactly the role, oddly enough, feeling and affect plays(ultimately I do not think Nussbaum understands the biology of affect but I think she is on to understanding something of how it works in the world.)

So I think the reason we are capable of doing things before we "know" we are doing them is because our actions are based in a "memory-feeling-action(memory)" complex that we then justify. That is thinking is just too slow to get us through the day or most situations. We would be dead many times over. Thinking is important in between, for reflexive learning, in analysis and learning, again in between. For this we need "freedom" of what we might call negative affect. To have really free will we need to be calm, free of fear, anger, shame, disgust. We all know this, I hope. Can one really be rational if they are really fearful or angry? And for me it is clear we do not choose our emotions, they chose us.

Now comes "responsibility". It seems simply odd to talk about responsibility, then when the whole enterprise here is about trauma and the effects thereof. My whole experience as a therapist has been seeing people as being frozen in an affect-"script" bind. That is they feel and then do. They are incapable of thinking before they act. Why? They can't because their anger-rage, fear-terror, shame-humiliation started very, very early. I thought this is why I was here, I thought this is what I learned here. That is the actual circumstances of why the affect is so strong and no one has pointed out how it is magically cured and how one magically overcomes it to become "responsible". Patients then tie themselves in knots justifying what they just did because they do not want to see themselves as that "bad" person. Brian
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