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Reactance, Day II: Implications

So, there's this thing called reactance. If you're like most people, you've probably never heard of it, and yet it has huge implications for your life.

Reactance is a psychological phenomenon -- in response to loss of a freedom, loss of choice, or a perceived loss of freedom/choice, people are quite likely to feel psychological reactance.

Psychological reactance makes you want to push back against the new restrictions, to fight and combat them, to reassert yourself and control over your world.

This can be in the form of direct resistance or pushback against the loss of freedom, and increased desire for the prohibited action.

But it does a lot of other things, too. Reactance causes people to like and enjoy whatever their threatened freedom is more than they liked it in the past, often permanently. Reactance causes people to want to reestablish freedom/control through similar types of behavior -- like increased eating of junkfood in response to being prohibited from drinking alcohol.

Freedom: Self-Development, Anarchy and Spirituality

On Spiritual Technology

Freedom is understood in many different ways by different people at different levels of intellectual, moral and spiritual consciousness. It is the masculine in us all that seeks autonomy and freedom (as noted by David Deida and others). The feminine yearns for fullness and relationship. This is yet another manifestation of emptiness and form as the masculine and feminine. We all have both the masculine and feminine within us whether we are men or women, but these aspects of us may be at very different stages of development. Nevertheless, the masculine within all of us seeks freedom.


When I first started 'waking up' a few years ago, I became interested in Anarchism. Like many people with a liberal background (see previous article on the individual and socio-cultural environment), I was impressed by how social structures constrain and limit people.

Most people who don't take the time to think about themselves and their environment simply adopt the values and culture supported by the social structures around them. Using our individual-environment model, we can say that the environment feeds strongly into the individual, but most individuals simply regurgitate this feed of values and culture back into the environment, contributing little to its growth and evolution. Most of us are like the human batteries in the Matrix (what would we ever use for analogies had that movie never been made? ;), never questioning the reality or legitimacy of the environment presented to us.

At the time, I determined that if the social structures were forcibly changed, that individuals could be changed, in this case freed, as well. This is true to a large extent, of course, but it also neglects the role of the autonomy of the individual, one of the very ideals we are trying to realize through social change in the first place. That is, it focuses solely on how to change the society to effect change in ("freeing") the individual. It does not consider how it may be possible to develop the individual to change society.

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