Freedom, A Psychological Problem

By Maxjulian

June 15, 2007

Category: Uncategorized


Erich Fromm:

..freedom has a twofold meaning for modern man: that he has been freed from traditional authorities and has become an ‘individual,’ but that at the same time he has become isolated, powerless and an instrument of purposes outside of himself, alienated from himself and others; furthermore, that this state undermines his self, weakens and frightens him, and makes him ready for submission to new kinds of bondage. Positive freedom on the other hand is identical with the full realization of the individual’s potentialities, together with his ability to live actively and spontaneously.”

What is your bondage?  What shackles do you strap-on to limit your freedom?

5 Responses to “Freedom, A Psychological Problem”

  1. great question.

    a while back, when reading through a wonderful book called “The Artist’s Way”, which is about reclaiming creativity, I was encouraged to think on the things that limit my creativity. Your question reminds me of that experience.

    What binds me and limits my freedom is mostly voices from my childhood, saying things like “girls can’t do [insert: various athletic activity, science, math, politics], either at all or just not as well as boys”, “you’ll never make a living as a musician/artist/writer”, “you’re book smart but not street smart, so you’ll never be cool/understand real life”, “you’re too much of a dreamer, get a grip on reality”, “you’re jsut a dumb girl”, “you’re not as creative as you think you are”, “you’re not as good at [insert: music, art, writing, math, science, etc.] as so-and-so, so you should just focus on something else”…..

    I’ve internalized so many of these voices, criticisms, and UNTRUTHS. They have led to self-doubt and lack of confidence; sometimes they have led to abandonment of passions and enjoyments, and a stifling of natural abilities that could just as easily have been cultivated as abandoned. Slowly, I am reclaiming each and every one of my dreams, pleasures, passions. Fuck you, asshats. I can do ANYTHING.

  2. I was just speaking with a friend about how completely our culture assumes the Hegelian dialetic as a way of being… so not so much about how the State serves to enslave us and rob us of freedoms, but our how our view of the world is framed Master-Slave. So, our conclusion was that dualistic thinking has to go for real revolution and freedom. It starts first with a psychology that lacks the ability to embrace the world holistically. That the very act of separation serves as a foundation for the mechanisms of oppression of the self and other. OK, I am babbling a bit – and taking up way too much blog real estate.

  3. TG: You and me are in the same boat. Voices from the past. They are slow to release their hold on me. They provide comfort, consistency.

    BWB: You’ve got it! The dualistic thinking is the key feature that imprisons most of us. This book I keep mentioning, “Yurugu,” is a critique of European culture. This is exactly what she talks about.

    One of the reason I harp on the Left/Right dichotomy is that it is a false dichotomy. The Left here in Portland is as racist, if not more so, than the Right. Just as blind, just as resistant to seeing themselves in someone else’s mirror. That dichotomy is blinding.

    And you weren’t babbling at all, nor taking up ENOUGH real estate

  4. Like other women, I was taught that women are for sex and cooking (that was the precise line used to “explain” why I wouldn’t be given any money to go to college). But it is my fear of inadequacy — period — and of being punished for being “bad” (for not accepting the party-line about whatever issue is at hand) that I fight daily.

    Making your question (“What shackles do you strap-on to limit your freedom?”) a mental pit-stop every morning can help me make the conscious choice not to strap on my fear for that day. Hmmmmm…I wonder what would happen then?

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