“The Myth of Self-Control”


Brian Resnick talks to psychologists who say that developing willpower might not be the most effective way to get positive results. “If we could stop worshiping self-control, maybe we could start thinking about diluting the power of temptation — and helping people meet their goals in new ways with less effort.”

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  1. This kind of thing scares me a great deal. When self-control is seen as a myth you know other-control is going to predominate. “Mental illness” today is rationalized as some kind of inability at self-control. I was suspicious about this article subverting the concept of free will, and that’s exactly what it does. Excuse me. Leave me to my liberty, and I will leave you to your appetites, and whatever self-destructive course goes along with them. I see choice in our respective paths, and not fate. This article however sees “conscientiousness” as a hereditary trait. I tend to see conscientiousness in actions rather than in genomes. Self-control is also one of those things that makes people accountable for the actions that they do take. Of course, he or she could have done otherwise.

    • I agree with you, Frank. I have a religious problem with psychiatry. According to the Bible, we’re all sinners–not just a handful called the “mentally ill.” In order to be a sinner you must commit a sin–which is defined as a willful transgression against the moral law. If we have no choice–if the transgression isn’t truly willful–then how can sin be possible?

      I know you and most of the other MIA readers aren’t religious. But why has the American church bought into the psychiatric narrative so eagerly? Why is there so little consideration of the philosophical and theological conflicts with such a materialistically biased worldview? Don’t pro-psychiatry churches realize they are signing their own death warrants by embracing this “science” to appear humane and enlightened?

  2. OK. I have actually read the article. Actually most of what they recommend is simply common sense. Instead of standing in front of a platter of cookies using will power to refrain from eating too many, avoid the platter. Wow!
    Learn to make good habits like studying, exercising, and eating healthful foods fun. Duh!
    Instead of struggling to overcome an insatiable craving for sweets find a way to come off abilify and other psych drugs. OK. I added that last one–obviously. But it works. 😀