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Why Do People Flee from Freedom?

“Can freedom become a burden, too heavy for man to bear, something he tries to escape from?” – Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom

Why do people flee from freedom? Throughout history, humanity has exhibited a tendency towards this seemingly counter-intuitive paradox. As it turns out, this instinct is much more predictable than we’re often led to believe. 

“In choosing a life of venturing, in embracing the possible even though this means inviting uncertainty into our life, we will not be tempted to resort to moral masochism. Rather, in venturing we continually expand the confines of our comfort zone, we learn how to remain resilient in the face of failure, and we cultivate courage, self-reliance, independence, and hence, self-respect. And so but one question remains: will we embrace our inner god and choose a life of courageous venturing, or will we succumb to our inner worm, flee from the anxieties of freedom, and seek out someone or something to call master? “The first act of freedom is to choose it.” (William James, The Will to Believe), wrote the psychologist William James. And the second is to take the actions that are necessary to be free and realize that life is short and the greatest suffering comes not to those who are bold but to those who remain cowardly.”

The following presentation is from Academy of Ideas entitled, “Freedom and Anxiety: The Inner God vs Inner Worm.” Watch:

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