Free Will, Psychiatry Video: “Free Will versus Psychiatry”, RANZCP Congress 2015 Posted by Steve Stankevicius on 11 May, 201506 Jan, 2016 Recorded at the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatry Congress 2015, 05/05/2015, Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading... Related
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I’m sorry you feel a need to jump on the anti-free-will bandwagon. It is misguided.
Free will is not a mystical or metaphysical event. It is only us, choosing for ourselves what we will do next. The choice is our “will”. The fact that the choice is our own, and not forced upon us by someone else, is why we say it is “free”.
Consider another use of “free”. A prisoner in jail is “not free”. He cannot come and go as he pleases. He must eat his meals when someone else chooses. He must go outside for recreation when it pleases someone else.
However, when he is released from prison, we say he is “free”. And all we mean by that is that he is no longer constrained by bars and no longer subject to the commands of someone else.
We do not say the prisoner merely has the “illusion” of being free, because he is still subject to the laws of the universe. Nor do we require him to be free of himself, his own thoughts and feelings, beliefs and values, and influences of past experience.
No. We say he is “really” free. And the exact same usage applies to “free will”. If you are able to choose for yourself, then you are said to be “free to choose for yourself” and your will is said to be “free” because it is not subjugated to the will of someone else.
I’m pretty sure that we can still distinguish between “free will” and the sick influence upon one’s self by a brain tumor.
Everyone can agree that we should not attribute the affects of physical or psychological symptoms to free will when they are not due to bad choices but to actual illness.
On the other hand, in the absence of real physical or psychological causes, where the problem is in the personality or the character that the person has chosen for themselves, then we’ll need to strengthen rather than demolish free will. And this is where your argument against free will would lead to bad clinical outcomes.
In some cases, psychology will want to therapy to strengthen and reinforce better choices, remove imaginary roadblocks, and provide new viable alternatives for the patient.
As with raising a child, the goal of therapy is an independent personality capable of making better choices independently, on his or her own, without the clinician having to look over their shoulder.
And we call this ability to make choices for oneself “free will”. To attack free will is to attack personal independence and responsibility.