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How am I going to do my job without free will?

 
Serculis
 
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Serculis
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24 March 2018 17:38
 

I aim to be a counsellor.

During my career, there will be people coming to me dealing with problems concerned with others not taking responsibility, others being mean/hurtful, etc.

If a rape victim comes to me with a damaging desire for extreme vengeance against her perpetrator, how on earth will I deal with this? I can lie and deal with it in a conventional way, or I can be true to myself and tell her the perpetrator had no choice over their actions, so vengeance would be meaningless and in fact unethical.

1) It looks like I will have to give 1 hour lectures to so many of my future clients
2) it might drive them away as they wouldn’t understand the truth of determinism, call me a shit counsellor, rate me badly, attract controversy, possibly get me fired

The only solution is to explain the truth of determinism, and then give my own personal piece of advice on dealing with other people knowing they aren’t in control of their actions. I could explain to the rape victim for example their rapist was not in control of their actions, and here are XYZ ways to deal with the trauma effectively with that knowledge.

I have very little confidence I can pull this off though… I will effectively be ripping down people’s belief systems one by one for years on end. And it’s terribly hard to successfully change people’s belief systems.

But I think I will go insane if I have to live a career of absolute lies and pretend people have agency over their actions.

So what do I do? Will I have to become a famous counsellor who ends up developing their own branch of therapy based on the truth of determinism?

 
GAD
 
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GAD
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24 March 2018 19:19
 

You had no freewill yesterday when you dealt with them so why should tomorrow be any different. Freewill is an intuitive feeling and understanding determinism doesn’t change it any more then knowing that you are mortal and will die one day stops you from living, even the nihilist find a way to keep on living.

Here is a simple argument that destroys that argument that without freewill people can’t be held accountable for their actions. 

If people can’t be held accountable for their action then I can’t be held accountable for holding them accountable.

 
 
nonverbal
 
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nonverbal
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25 March 2018 06:00
 

It seems like a mistake for a mental specialist to teach nonfree-will. While the opinion may (or may not) be accurate, it’s anything but science-derived. It makes excellent, logical sense to say that all of life behaves as it does for good reasons. But to cap off an otherwise pedestrian thought with, people therefore have no control over themselves is unnecessary. It’s a distant insight in my opinion, with more potential negatives than positives in a context of teaching a person how to think or feel. Yes, distant—all the way back to an imagined Big Bang. When theoretical physicists propose explanations about the universe, they often need to use their imaginations differently than, say, a chemist trying to develop a new medication. Hard determinism is an interesting hypothesis, but difficult to square up with the actual world. Until it does, it’s philosophical. That’s right—GAD is a philosopher!

Yes, people do lack control in many situations. But I can think of ways to explain this fact to people searching for solutions to their mental health difficulties without blasting apart any remaining feelings of control they might actually have access to.

Good luck with your work, however you approach the issue.

 
 
jdrnd
 
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jdrnd
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25 March 2018 06:58
 
Serculis - 24 March 2018 05:38 PM

I aim to be a counsellor.

During my career, there will be people coming to me dealing with problems concerned with others not taking responsibility, others being mean/hurtful, etc.

If a rape victim comes to me with a damaging desire for extreme vengeance against her perpetrator, how on earth will I deal with this? I can lie and deal with it in a conventional way, or I can be true to myself and tell her the perpetrator had no choice over their actions, so vengeance would be meaningless and in fact unethical.

1) It looks like I will have to give 1 hour lectures to so many of my future clients
2) it might drive them away as they wouldn’t understand the truth of determinism, call me a shit counsellor, rate me badly, attract controversy, possibly get me fired

The only solution is to explain the truth of determinism, and then give my own personal piece of advice on dealing with other people knowing they aren’t in control of their actions. I could explain to the rape victim for example their rapist was not in control of their actions, and here are XYZ ways to deal with the trauma effectively with that knowledge.

I have very little confidence I can pull this off though… I will effectively be ripping down people’s belief systems one by one for years on end. And it’s terribly hard to successfully change people’s belief systems.

But I think I will go insane if I have to live a career of absolute lies and pretend people have agency over their actions.

So what do I do? Will I have to become a famous counsellor who ends up developing their own branch of therapy based on the truth of determinism?

Whether we have free will or not we all live our lives as if we have it.

That is the truth.

 


I am counseling you now.

I and you don’t know if everything that is going to happen is preordained.
But whatever you do in your life, whatever decision you make, consider it your choice.
There is no other valid way to live ones life.

 

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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25 March 2018 07:59
 

It’s hard to even know where to start. I don’t mean for my comments to sound abrupt. I am direct because I think the issue is important. I have had to deal with sexual assault in my family more than once so it’s an issue I take very seriously.

First, fallacy of consequences. The existence or non existence of free will is not influenced by the benefits or liabilities it might confer upon our daily affairs. There are some inconvenient things about gravity and about the central nervous system and the probable heat death of the universe. The fact that I don’t like these things doesn’t make them go away. I would hope, as a counselor you don’t plan to convey manifest untruths simply for the sake of comfort and solace. This doesn’t strike me as a strategy for the empowerment of damaged people.

Second, why do you have to discuss at all? I can appreciate the need for this conversation if a client brings it up but I can’t imagine interjecting philosophical chestnuts into a debriefing about sexual assault. It seems a rather unlikely query for a victim to interject.

Third, determinism isn’t morally prescriptive in the way you infer. The fact that people do not invent their thought processes does not compel us to discard our concepts of justice. I think it’s quite the opposite. I think that when we acknowledge the ultimate inter connected ness of systems it empowers us to enact the kind of steps that will improve culture. I think it informs empathy and compassion to notice the causative links between biology, background and behavior.

I think the problem you are describing is one you have invented. I think the practice of counseling stands or falls on its own merits whether or not free will exists.

With respect.

 
jdrnd
 
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jdrnd
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25 March 2018 10:37
 
Brick Bungalow - 25 March 2018 07:59 AM

I think the problem you are describing is one you have invented. I think the practice of counseling stands or falls on its own merits whether or not free will exists.

 

I agree. with both points

 
EN
 
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EN
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25 March 2018 11:09
 

Every piece of advice you give in counseling is based on a cause & effect chain that went before.  Your counseling is the next effect that comes from that chain, and becomes part of the next cause when it reaches the ear/mind of your patient.  His/her response is the next effect, and becomes part of the next cause when his/her response turns into action.  It can’t be predicted, but in hindsight it’s simply an unbroken chain from the beginning of time.  Yes, you live as though you had free will, and that’s fine.  That in and of itself is also part of the chain.

 
Serculis
 
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Serculis
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25 March 2018 11:13
 

I feel like everyone read the title of my post and assumed I’m having a crisis about being able to do a job without freely choosing to do so. I’m not talking about that at all. I am perfectly fine living my life knowing I am not in control of my thoughts and actions.

I will reword my problem in the hopes that you all will understand my specific concern.

Okay, so, my problem is that when I eventually become a counsellor, I will have to deal with clients who are having problems specifically due to their belief in free will. For example, a rape victim might come to me saying that their problem is that they occupy their minds every day and night with fantasies of vengeance against their perpetrator, and this constant fantasising is making them unstable. They explicitly say they have healed significantly over the actual act of being forced upon, so they don’t want help on that, but they are now fixated on the fact that the rapist chose to commit such a horrendous act when they did not have to. How on earth am I going to agree and say “yes, it’s true your perpetrator could have chosen not to violate you, now here are some strategies for getting over your fixation of revenge.”

If you want a real life example, let’s take the famous case of James Bulgar. He was tortured and killed by two older boys. His mother has been completely traumatised. The case happened so long ago, but I keep seeing recurring articles about the case and her opinion of the perpetrators. She is constantly talking about evil they are, that they are monsters who deserve to have all their rights taken away, she is always talking about how they “could” have chosen to leave her son alone, etc. She said she will never ever forgive them for what they did. She also blames herself, here’s a quote from an article: “For so many years, she says, she would obsessively ask herself why she hadn’t taken the buggy, why she let go of his hand, why she turned left rather than right when she came out to look for him.”

She held the two boys accountable for her actions, she held herself accountable for letting go of his hand. She has probably felt extremely guilty for a long time for the fact that she chose to let go of his hand or chose not to bring a buggy that day. The unnecessary guilt she felt has most likely caused her great pain.

Now… let me first say that learning that the two boys were not in control of their actions OF COURSE would not magically make the mother heal 100%. She still lost a child in a horrific way.

But, a lot of her trauma would understandably come from her *wanting for vengeance* against the two boys, which itself has caused her great suffering. (fixations of revenge over a long period of time fucks you up.)

Learning that the boys were not in control of their actions, and that she would have done exactly the same thing in their shoes, would majorly help her heal. Although she would still be in great pain from her son’s horrific death, she would slowly heal from the suffering of vengeance fantasies.

So, if someone even remotely similar to the mother came to me as a client with a similar story, what on earth do I do?

If I say “yes, that rapist/murderer/molester could have chosen otherwise and deserves to be punished…” then:

1) I will be lying to the client and myself.

2) I will be withholding an incredibly effective method of healing from a client. If I try other conventional methods first from my counsellor training and they don’t work, I will be withholding THE ONLY effective method of help from a client.

In a nutshell, my concern is that some of my clients will come to me with serious problems that could literally be cured by telling them the truth of determinism. However, it is very difficult to convey this truth and could land me in trouble.

[ Edited: 25 March 2018 11:15 by Serculis]
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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25 March 2018 11:14
 
EN - 25 March 2018 11:09 AM

Every piece of advice you give in counseling is based on a cause & effect chain that went before.  Your counseling is the next effect that comes from that chain, and becomes part of the next cause when it reaches the ear/mind of your patient.  His/her response is the next effect, and becomes part of the next cause when his/her response turns into action.  It can’t be predicted, but in hindsight it’s simply an unbroken chain from the beginning of time.  Yes, you live as though you had free will, and that’s fine.  That in and of itself is also part of the chain.

Amen brother! May the Butt Fairy fart in you general direction.

 
 
nonverbal
 
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nonverbal
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25 March 2018 11:48
 
Serculis - 25 March 2018 11:13 AM

I feel like everyone read the title of my post and assumed I’m having a crisis about being able to do a job without freely choosing to do so. I’m not talking about that at all. I am perfectly fine living my life knowing I am not in control of my thoughts and actions.

I will reword my problem in the hopes that you all will understand my specific concern.

Okay, so, my problem is that when I eventually become a counsellor, I will have to deal with clients who are having problems specifically due to their belief in free will. For example, a rape victim might come to me saying that their problem is that they occupy their minds every day and night with fantasies of vengeance against their perpetrator, and this constant fantasising is making them unstable. They explicitly say they have healed significantly over the actual act of being forced upon, so they don’t want help on that, but they are now fixated on the fact that the rapist chose to commit such a horrendous act when they did not have to. How on earth am I going to agree and say “yes, it’s true your perpetrator could have chosen not to violate you, now here are some strategies for getting over your fixation of revenge.”

If you want a real life example, let’s take the famous case of James Bulgar. He was tortured and killed by two older boys. His mother has been completely traumatised. The case happened so long ago, but I keep seeing recurring articles about the case and her opinion of the perpetrators. She is constantly talking about evil they are, that they are monsters who deserve to have all their rights taken away, she is always talking about how they “could” have chosen to leave her son alone, etc. She said she will never ever forgive them for what they did. She also blames herself, here’s a quote from an article: “For so many years, she says, she would obsessively ask herself why she hadn’t taken the buggy, why she let go of his hand, why she turned left rather than right when she came out to look for him.”

She held the two boys accountable for her actions, she held herself accountable for letting go of his hand. She has probably felt extremely guilty for a long time for the fact that she chose to let go of his hand or chose not to bring a buggy that day. The unnecessary guilt she felt has most likely caused her great pain.

Now… let me first say that learning that the two boys were not in control of their actions OF COURSE would not magically make the mother heal 100%. She still lost a child in a horrific way.

But, a lot of her trauma would understandably come from her *wanting for vengeance* against the two boys, which itself has caused her great suffering. (fixations of revenge over a long period of time fucks you up.)

Learning that the boys were not in control of their actions, and that she would have done exactly the same thing in their shoes, would majorly help her heal. Although she would still be in great pain from her son’s horrific death, she would slowly heal from the suffering of vengeance fantasies.

So, if someone even remotely similar to the mother came to me as a client with a similar story, what on earth do I do?

If I say “yes, that rapist/murderer/molester could have chosen otherwise and deserves to be punished…” then:

1) I will be lying to the client and myself.

2) I will be withholding an incredibly effective method of healing from a client. If I try other conventional methods first from my counsellor training and they don’t work, I will be withholding THE ONLY effective method of help from a client.

In a nutshell, my concern is that some of my clients will come to me with serious problems that could literally be cured by telling them the truth of determinism. However, it is very difficult to convey this truth and could land me in trouble.

But you’re talking about teaching people to see freedom of will as being impossible. Wherever such an instruction takes place, you’ve taught them a lesson that will most certainly generalize to other areas of concern if you’ve taught them well, wouldn’t you say?

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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25 March 2018 12:05
 
Serculis - 25 March 2018 11:13 AM

I will reword my problem in the hopes that you all will understand my specific concern.

That just made it worse.

 
 
Serculis
 
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Serculis
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25 March 2018 12:20
 
nonverbal - 25 March 2018 11:48 AM

But you’re talking about teaching people to see freedom of will as being impossible. Wherever such an instruction takes place, you’ve taught them a lesson that will most certainly generalize to other areas of concern if you’ve taught them well, wouldn’t you say?

Well my imagination says otherwise. Some people, no matter how clearly you have explained the truth of determinism, do not understand it, do not believe it, and start to get annoyed with you.

Sam Harris describes the nonexistence of free will perfectly, yet a simple scroll through some youtube comments and he is called a pseudo-intellectual, lots of horrible illogical arguments are stated against his view (even though he dismantled these views in the video itself), people claim he is trying to get criminals a free pass etc.

Also, a counselling session has a limited duration. As soon as the hour is up, that person gets to walk out the door and my chances of convincing them will be gone. At least in a normal setting, you can converse for a whole night to sway someone’s opinion.

Having to give perfectly articulate lectures on the truth of determinism will be extremely difficult, has a low success rate and will probably get me into a lot of trouble. In a 1 hour long perfect explanation on free will, the traumatised rape victim can easily be biased in their thinking and only remember the fact that I said their perpetrator had no choice but to rape them. This cherry-picked thought will lead them to run away as far as possible from me and publically shame me for my “apologist views”.

So the only thing I can realistically do is lie and agree with clients that “yes, your father could have chosen to stay with you but he didn’t” - “yes, your uncle could have chosen to resist the urge to molest you” - “yes, your friend should have considered your feelings and it’s their fault they didn’t”

But of course, this constant lying will make me feel horrible, and I will be withholding the best truth of the universe that could solve so many psychological problems today.

 
Serculis
 
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Serculis
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25 March 2018 12:27
 
GAD - 25 March 2018 12:05 PM

That just made it worse.

Your reply to my first wording was “You had no freewill yesterday when you dealt with them so why should tomorrow be any different.”

It was completely unrelated to my problem. You seemed to have assumed I was having a crisis about living knowing that I wasn’t truly in control of my actions. This isn’t the case, maybe my post title misled you.

My revision gave the example of people who become unstable due to long-term revenge fantasies, where learning about the truth of determinism could solve their problem of wanting revenge on someone. I then stated that as ideal as this is, it can lead to bad consequences if a person refuses to change their beliefs and labels me an apologist. I asked the forum how to deal with this dilemma.

Do you understand it now?

 
GAD
 
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GAD
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25 March 2018 12:36
 
Serculis - 25 March 2018 12:27 PM
GAD - 25 March 2018 12:05 PM

That just made it worse.

Your reply to my first wording was “You had no freewill yesterday when you dealt with them so why should tomorrow be any different.”

It was completely unrelated to my problem. You seemed to have assumed I was having a crisis about living knowing that I wasn’t truly in control of my actions. This isn’t the case, maybe my post title misled you.

My revision gave the example of people who become unstable due to long-term revenge fantasies, where learning about the truth of determinism could solve their problem of wanting revenge on someone. I then stated that as ideal as this is, it can lead to bad consequences if a person refuses to change their beliefs and labels me an apologist. I asked the forum how to deal with this dilemma.

Do you understand it now?

I got it the first time. If you think that telling people they can’t hold other people accountable for murdering their children is going to help them I think you need help, try pot, lots and lots of pot.

 
 
nonverbal
 
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nonverbal
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25 March 2018 13:24
 
Serculis - 25 March 2018 12:20 PM
nonverbal - 25 March 2018 11:48 AM

But you’re talking about teaching people to see freedom of will as being impossible. Wherever such an instruction takes place, you’ve taught them a lesson that will most certainly generalize to other areas of concern if you’ve taught them well, wouldn’t you say?

Well my imagination says otherwise. Some people, no matter how clearly you have explained the truth of determinism, do not understand it, do not believe it, and start to get annoyed with you.

Sam Harris describes the nonexistence of free will perfectly, yet a simple scroll through some youtube comments and he is called a pseudo-intellectual, lots of horrible illogical arguments are stated against his view (even though he dismantled these views in the video itself), people claim he is trying to get criminals a free pass etc.

Also, a counselling session has a limited duration. As soon as the hour is up, that person gets to walk out the door and my chances of convincing them will be gone. At least in a normal setting, you can converse for a whole night to sway someone’s opinion.

Having to give perfectly articulate lectures on the truth of determinism will be extremely difficult, has a low success rate and will probably get me into a lot of trouble. In a 1 hour long perfect explanation on free will, the traumatised rape victim can easily be biased in their thinking and only remember the fact that I said their perpetrator had no choice but to rape them. This cherry-picked thought will lead them to run away as far as possible from me and publically shame me for my “apologist views”.

So the only thing I can realistically do is lie and agree with clients that “yes, your father could have chosen to stay with you but he didn’t” - “yes, your uncle could have chosen to resist the urge to molest you” - “yes, your friend should have considered your feelings and it’s their fault they didn’t”

But of course, this constant lying will make me feel horrible, and I will be withholding the best truth of the universe that could solve so many psychological problems today.

Have you brought up this conundrum with the people in charge of granting you whatever diploma or certification you might be working on? My best guess is that chances are, your thesis advisor (or whoever) will look at this as a departure from what might be considered rational. Sorry if that sounds harsh.

 
 
Serculis
 
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Serculis
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25 March 2018 15:23
 
GAD - 25 March 2018 12:36 PM
Serculis - 25 March 2018 12:27 PM
GAD - 25 March 2018 12:05 PM

That just made it worse.

Your reply to my first wording was “You had no freewill yesterday when you dealt with them so why should tomorrow be any different.”

It was completely unrelated to my problem. You seemed to have assumed I was having a crisis about living knowing that I wasn’t truly in control of my actions. This isn’t the case, maybe my post title misled you.

My revision gave the example of people who become unstable due to long-term revenge fantasies, where learning about the truth of determinism could solve their problem of wanting revenge on someone. I then stated that as ideal as this is, it can lead to bad consequences if a person refuses to change their beliefs and labels me an apologist. I asked the forum how to deal with this dilemma.

Do you understand it now?

I got it the first time. If you think that telling people they can’t hold other people accountable for murdering their children is going to help them I think you need help, try pot, lots and lots of pot.

You clearly did not get it the first time as you said “You had no freewill yesterday when you dealt with them so why should tomorrow be any different.” which beared no resemblance to the topic at hand.

Actually, I heard of a guy whose daughter was raped and murdered. He was full of revenge for years on end, discovered Sam Harris’s work and slowly began to accept that people aren’t accountable for their actions and admitted that he would do the exact same, had he been in the person’s shoes. He described finding a new love and compassion for all human beings ever since.

Of course, not everybody is going to react like that. That’s why I asked the question in the first place. I wasn’t planning on just saying “oh btw the person who killed your child has no control over their actions therefore you can’t hold them accountable okay bye” .... When I say a whole lecture, I would be mirroring Sam’s talks.

GAD - I’m curious, have you told any close friends or family about your view? Or are you unlucky enough to be around people who wouldn’t believe it?

[ Edited: 25 March 2018 15:27 by Serculis]
 
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