The “Free Will” Illusion

In the grand tapestry of existence, the concept of Free Will has been a subject of philosophical debate for centuries. The notion that humans possess the autonomy to make choices independent of any predetermination is deeply ingrained in our societal, legal, and moral frameworks. However, the question persists: do we truly have Free Will?

How did you decide to open this posting?

Neuroscientific research suggests that our decisions are made in the subconscious mind before we become aware of them. Brain scans have shown that activity in certain areas can predict the decision a person will make before they consciously make it, indicating that free will may be an illusion created by our conscious mind.

Does a person with any of the 300 listed disorders in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) have the Free Will to create their DSM disorder?

The most recent data from 2020 shows that approximately 76.9 million people in the United States were taking psychiatric drugs. This number includes various age groups and types of medications, such as antidepressants, ADHD drugs, anti-anxiety drugs, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers. Here’s a breakdown of the numbers for each category:

  • All Psychiatric Drugs: 76,940,157
  • Antidepressants: 45,204,771
  • ADHD Drugs: 9,585,203
  • Anti-anxiety Drugs: 31,229,150
  • Antipsychotics: 11,154,803
  • Mood Stabilizers: 21,863,616

Additionally, in 2022, an estimated 29.5 million Americans aged 12 and older battled an alcohol use disorder.

So more than 106.5 million people in the United States (almost one-third of the US population) are on legally prescribed drugs or engaging in alcohol abuse.This doesn’t account for the people using illegal drugs. Do all of these people have Free Will?

What would happen if the majority in a democratic society believed that Free Will was an illusion?

The belief in the absence of Free Will could potentially lead to several positive outcomes in society:

  • Empathy and Compassion: Understanding that individuals may not have control over their actions could foster greater empathy and compassion, and less judgment of those who are less fortunate.
  • Rehabilitative Justice: The legal system might shift focus from punishment to rehabilitation, recognizing that behavior is influenced by factors beyond an individual’s control. Society can still be protected from those that violate the laws.
  • Social Harmony: There could be a reduction in blame and an increase in tolerance, as people recognize the role of external factors in shaping behavior.
  • Personal Well-being: Some studies suggest that a belief in determinism (the opposite of Free Will) can be associated with better mental health, less stress, and lower aggression.

By the way, I didn’t have Free Will when I wrote this posting. Also see the next post:do-we-have-free-will/


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