Mental Health: Pathology, Free Will And Stereotypes

What is the relationship between free will and pathology? Can a person opt away from what is stereotypical?


Mental Health: Pathology, Free Will And Stereotypes — 60 Comments

  1. I think some people can overcome, some people cannot. I think some people are capable of overcoming but choose (on some level) not to.

    People develop their toolbox from these things and get attached to their tools. They don’t seem to notice that the things that kept them sane back then are the very things making them (or the people who care about them) crazy today.

    It’s hard to tell who is who sometimes. I know I’ve hung on to some of my tools; it’s hard to let go sometimes. I’ve buried a great many of them though and I pull out the remainder less and less these days.

  2. Perhaps the Soldier is non empathic? Soldiers are trained in non-free will ways Elsa. They follow orders in the service. Perhaps that is what works in a Soldiers paradigm Elsa? Its sad to hear this perspective, that becoming well again should be so black and white. I agree that in the end it can boil down to choices but that is where the argument within personality belongs with the pathology.

    Its hard to just order the inner feeling child part of personality to get in line. That part must be ready enough to emerge in his/her own time. To recognise that this part of prsonality (child part) even exists can take a very long time for some people.


  3. The soldier, non-empathic, are you kidding me? Sometimes I wonder whose blog you read, Kingsley. The soldier is the most empathic person I’ve ever known in my life.

    I have no idea your desire to assign us some kind of pathology but do you know this is a pattern?

    Do you realize, Kingsley that years ago I wrote about the soldier and I on an astrology mailing list and you did this same thing? WTF?

    We may not be like you but it does not mean we are are sick or sad or any other damned thing that needs fixing. It’s like you’re a therapist and GODDAMNIT you are going to therapize us, never mind we are happy as shit!

    Now who do you think has the problem, really? I swear to God, you come on here a few times a week to tell me about the problem I have that I don’t have. I guess I am not that co-dependent after all because I reject this! I am not going to wear your pathology coat, nor let you put it on my man.

    I am telling you, you did this same thing with these same people years ago and what has been established is this: We trigger you.

  4. Geez you sound angry today and I thought it was you who said you were going to piss others off with your blog video? I am not quite understanding where you are coming from Elsa. I hear your angry Elsa and I am ok with what you say.


  5. Kingsley it seems that this video is about what we think about pathology and free will…when do people let go, less about analysis of what pathologies apply to Elsa and the Soldier.
    I am interested…what do you think about the actual questions Elsa asked? Leaving what you imagine the Soldier and Elsa’s pathology out of it?

    I think about this kind of thing all the time.
    How do I really empathize? How could I know what it is like to be _______ when it never happened to me?

    I think a lot, too, about how decades can pass and certain events become memory that informs your life every single day.
    The memory lives on, but there is no longer any “proof” of it. It’s not physical, so.

    To answer your question, Elsa I think that some of us are more adept at moving on than others. I think I’m pretty good. However the last 2 years Pluto spent at the end of my 12th House I relived a lot, and I mean A LOT of memories, and it was quite shocking, as I didn’t have a “bad” relationship with those memories.

    It’s weird to know they’re there, lurking beneath the surface.

  6. If I got your blog right Elsa I think you said about the Soldiers perspective on someone “getting over” their issues such as abuse etc? I think you realised from the outset that this blog may be controversial and you used your partners values to get your points across. Maybe I am not ok with his philosophies in life. I really dont know the guy, how could I be angry with him?

    I hear what you say about me therapizing and I apologise for my suggestion the Soldier is without empathy in relation to your example above. Perhaps because you use your partner’s experiences and thoughts to generate ideas for your blogs I have also felt free to comment openly back. Sorry if that pisses you off.

    I hear your questions and statements about yesteryear, however I strongly disagree with you on this point. I am happy to discuss what you are angry about here and now though. I hope you dont delete me Elsa.


  7. Kingsley – you got my blog wrong. The soldier made no comment on abuse whatsoever, the gal I mentioned has no abuse issues whatsoever. As I specifically mentioned she is from privilege on many levels.

    As for discussing things with you, when and if I decide I want you for a therapist, you can be sure I will show up in your office with my checkbook in hand. That I am not in your office should be taken as a sign.

    As for “deleting” you, it is inevitable if you continue on course.

  8. Addressing the blog questions, I disagree with the notion of *complete* free will. We are, whether we like it or not, largely products of our society and surroundings and experiences. The idea that we can somehow escape that, to me, is silly. Especially when it comes to abuse. When someone is abused, especially if they develop PTSD, their brain chemistry changes. This is not a willpower issue; this is an issue of biology. It takes long years of pain and work to begin to change it, and there is little evidence that it ever changes back completely. So the idea that someone simply makes a decision one day to be sane is strange to me. And if people are expected to do so (which I know you didn’t say) then it just seems unfair.

  9. I’m completely distracted by the yellow so I’m not sure if I heard right. It is clear to me that yellow = Elsa’s “color”.

    Well. The distant past affects the present through our thoughts and habits. Despite an initial buffer of conscious realization and adjustment of facts (mental and in “real life”), the past is also irrelevant to the present. You may feel shitty that this or that happened to you, but you will continue to re-create that reality if you keep putting it into the “now”. What we chose to do and express is mainly a matter of conditioning, so if our life is below standard or whatever, why NOT just get over it and try a new approach?

    People who have intense life problems, where they become “known” as some stereotypical being, might have to just leave their “place” altogether, at least temporarily, seeing as how people around them come to expect certain things from them. Social stigma seems to be a huge thing preventing people from actually making an effort to be something other than a self-stereotype.

  10. Kashmiri, I was referring to the psychological impact, because of course if your brain chemistry changes then the way you think changes. I am unsure about the physical pain and so don’t want to make a firm statement, but since pain is so related to stress and psychology I don’t see why it couldn’t relate.

  11. ok thanks midara for your thoughts. i’m really curious about this. one of my sisters is studying child psychology and i think the emphasis is one pain/brain connections in infants.
    i don’t know much about this but it is still interesting to think about.

  12. june i agree completely. I left home days after my 16th birthday and find it mind boggling that over 15 years later I can run into people on the street and they still see me as some kind of loser charity case.
    Then they seem astounded when I tell them I have a great relationship with my parents! :::head spinning:::

  13. On the same thread as midara, I learned an interesting fact this past summer. After a classically-conditioned fear is extinguished, when the subject presented with the stimulus later the “fear center” (the amygdala, if I remember right) is still triggered although the behavior has changed. (Some of that may be skewed, I didn’t keep the book unfortunately.)
    Basically, even though you have no outward reaction you’re using the same brain “path.”

    I don’t know where free will and pathology intersect, though. I know that it took my mom getting sober to deal with her issues surrounding my grandmother’s death. I personally like to think that I have more of an effect on the outcome than whatever I’ve been through in the past may influence. But I just don’t know. . ..

    Pluto in the 4th effen house, y’all. =/

  14. Awesome Question!!! I LOVE this topic, and have to think on it a bit. For I do challenge myself to discipline my mind quite a bit, but I have a brother, who NEEDS to discipline his mind or he goes off the deep end, he does keep in together for the most part, but winds up living within tightly created mental structures that allow him to function but meanwhile he feels confined. I however get to feel free within the structure I create for myself, the difference: I CAN actually release the past, he for the most part can’t and thus has to boss himself around. Not sure if this is described clearly enough to be comprehendable, but I do love the topic… there is a lot of meat there for everyone’s lives.

  15. I’m intrigued by the concept of “releasing” something, especially in light of the discussion on affects on brain chemistry – after years of trauma (and i’m not necessarily speaking of myself, but have read up on this a bit), how does one manage to “release”?

  16. I feel like my Gemini mother shuts stuff off, my Pisces father broods and dwells, my Leo sister shops and I don’t know. I observe and analyze (endlessly).

    But “release,” – it seems like a nice option.

    And I’m just talking about with day to day concerns and what I’ve observed in my immediate family – of course making huge overgeneralizations.

  17. I hear what you’re saying Elsa and I agree for the most part.

    I think some people don’t have the emotional fortitude, the strength, to do it, though.

    I’ve been through some shit, shit that would have wrecked most people. But me? Hey. I’m a rolling stone, I take what life smacks me with and I get up and keep going.

    I know people in my life that couldn’t handle what I’ve been through, because they’re just not emotionally equipped to handle it.

    How does one get emotionally equipped? Hmm. I’m not sure. A lot of things factor into that.

  18. I have lots of thoughts about this. There is one aspect I get angry about. I get defensive about people telling me “you have free will to cure yourself, you’re willing yourself/giving yourself permission to be more crazy.” How do you will intrusive thoughts out of your head? Isn’t OCD the process of endlessly brushing them away in the first place? Or will yourself to surrender to them.. I think of Freud’s discovery of the subconscious, the idea that we cannot rationally will away repressed thoughts. There is a sense, when I read of him, that he is proving that people do not have complete free will in being totally in control of themselves. At the same time, I think you can push yourself to be more or less mentally ill just like you can push yourself to have more or less pain.

    What does “you choose to be a victim” mean? I never understood that expression.

  19. This is a quote from a Robert Hand lecture on Free Will and Fate. He says there are 3 aspects. One is the natural aspect of being human subject to time and space, etc. The other is having our own personal illusions that we are born with or society gives us (through abuse of all kinds), etc. The last aspect I will quote him:
    “And then finally there is the other fate that is absolutely irrevocable, called providence. You have no choice but to be who you are. Your choice is to be who you are at the highest possible level or not. And I would go so far as to say that who you really are preexists who you are at the present moment, and it is pulling you forward to itself, and that pull is inevitable. Your getting all the way there, becoming a fully realized being, is not inevitable. Circumstances, accidents and of course the ever-present stupidity, or unconsciousness – whatever you want to call it – will all in varying degrees prevent us from getting to that perfect self-realization. But it is not written in the stars whether we will, or will not, ever be fully realized. What is written in the stars is how to do it – if we could but read the chart from that point of view.”

  20. I think the sexual abuse comparison is somewhat true, but also a bit oversimplistic. I Hope you don’t get angry with me b/c i WAS sexually abused as a child, so I can actually comment here.

    I agree life is about fate AND free will. I believe both and don’t think they are contradictory. I think astrology shows very well that we are “built” into this life with certain things to learn… how we learn them, what we do with those experiences, is a choice.

    In my own case, yes I believe I have the choice to work with my sexual abuse issues and no longer allow them to control me… but as someone else said it’s not that easy. I think I am going along fine in my lifelong recovery… when one night I have sex with my loving husband, and end up crying afterward. And I don’t know why. Things like this are built into our subconscious and not so easy to ferret out.

    Also… especially when it comes to a pathology, first it takes a conscious recognition that there IS a pathology. I took the attitude that “it wasn’t so bad” — I was not treated violently, after all. I told myself the same thing–“just get over it.” and I ignored something that psychologists and therapist round the world will agree on–sexual abuse is a profound event that needs to be addressed if one is to heal. Unfortunately I considered myself “well enough” for years, and that I had a conscious choice to change my fate. And what happened (now that I look in hindsight) is that I repeatedly confirmed my subconscious issues over and over again in relationships for years and years. It was only until I made friends with a psychologist and he poised some very key questions to me by observation, that I had the epiphany moment–Ding-Ding-Ding! a red light came on and I realized I had NOT just “gotten over it.” It has affected my trust and intimacy level in every single relationship I have ever had, friend or otherwise.

    Sorry this is so long… but I both agree and disagree. I think we 1) have to be aware it’s a problem and then 2) make a conscious choice to redirect that energy and then, 3) it takes years of self work. Not so simple.


  21. Dina– you asked “What does “you choose to be a victim” mean? I never understood that expression.”

    I have an example. I have a best friend who is in an abusive relationship–mentally/emotionally/psychologically. Nobody likes him, he’s an ass. And she’s been in this relationship for 10 years!!! SHE knows he’s abusive, she’ll tell you this. She complains bitterly and yet… she won’t do a single thing about it. Won’t stand up to him, won’t kick him out. So at the end of the day, she knows she is being victimized and continues to allow it. That is her choice. She CHOOSES to be a victim of this man rather than taking steps to change things.

    As for random acts of violence, things that come out of nowhere–I don’t think anyone chooses to be raped, for instance. But once you have realized the aftermath is a problem, you have a choice as to whether you are going to work with your issues and try to heal, or continue to live in fear; that would be consciously choosing victimhood.

    Hope this helps.


  22. Hey Elsa,

    It’s eerie how timely you are. Thanks for reposting this. I was thinking about this last night. I came to the realization that no one can hurt me so deeply that I don’t get up and continue walking down my path. It took me awhile to stop blaming this or that for certain behaviors learned or acted out. We have a choice to move beyond our pathologies. Free Will all the way!

  23. I think it depends on how badly you get hurt.

    Concerning soldiers I heard a psychiatrist say yesterday there are only so many ‘laps’ (an average of 3 tours of duty) a soldier can endure before becoming more permanently traumatised. Of course, it depends on the individual to which extent that happens.

    It’s an interesting question pathology vs free will- I cannot seem to find a general answer though.

  24. This is a classic and complex question. Being Scorpio and Merc in the 10th house and history of abuse early in the house my experiences have included decades of sorting through the pain of origin and later coming to a place

    as willit sited from Robert Hand: “… providence. You have no choice but to be who you are. Your choice is to be who you are at the highest possible level or not. And I would go so far as to say that who you really are preexists who you are at the present moment,…”

    I get a view of my life at nearly 62 that includes lots of pain, transformations, and then a while back Elsa suggested the Natural Zodiac as a way to accept “my plane is going down”… that’s where my free will meets the tarmack. Here’s that link back to “Natural Zodiac.”


    Jeez, where else can a girl find this discourse. Thanks Elsa, Thanks All.
    Rock on Elsa!

  25. “Concerning soldiers I heard a psychiatrist say yesterday there are only so many ‘laps’ (an average of 3 tours of duty) a soldier can endure before becoming more permanently traumatised”

    This seems an idiotic statement to me.

  26. I wish I could find the link- it was in an interview with writer Patrick McGrath who wrote Trauma- a very good book. In it a traumatised soldier kills himself- though at the end of the book it’s quite unclear who was more messed up: the soldier or his shrink.
    McGrath states in the interview that his storyline was inspired by a psychiatrist’s analysis that ‘you can patch them up once, and twice, but not a third time’.
    I have no idea whether this was simply an individual’s observation, or has more of an evidence base. (probably not!).

  27. Ambidee – if someone on told me the arbitrary, “patch em up once…” – I would smile kindly and excuse myself to find someone smarter to talk to.

  28. What about torture. Do those who believe in free will here think that it is possible not to get totally, and irrecoverably, broken? Granted, thank god this is not the norm in life, and going through a very bad experience is not equivalent to that. But the whole point of torture is to break people – it seems to me that one can have free will, and yet still be vulnerable to becoming a different person – like a piece of ‘furniture’, one of the lawyers said of a high-profile detainee who had been extensively tortured. Is that not possible? This is my genuine question, what do people who believe in free will think about such a case?

  29. Sea, I have been extensively tortured and I am not broken. You can’t make a blanket statement about how individuals will react to experience, there are just too many variables.

    Further we have thousands of years of history to back up what I am saying.

    Compare that to the statement the psychiatrist made and you can see which one of us is talking out our ass as they say.

    There is such a thing as a person’s constitution and it varies from soul to soul.

  30. I think you must be right. It seems so true that everyone is really different. And there are certainly people who can withstand the worst of everything and emerge whole – as you say, history has many examples. But I guess I wonder if some people’s characters or constitutions or whatever are such that they can be broken, no matter if they have the will not to?

  31. I just asked the soldier his opinion of the “patch ’em up…”

    He agreed it is ridiculous and added, “If you have to patch them up once, there is no sense sending out a second time, they’re not cut out for it…”

    As for if a person can be broken… there are some some out there who I would say cannot be broken – you would have to kill them which is “dead” not “broken”.

  32. i think the issue may be less free will than the access to the right toolsets (perspectives) with which to use it.

    i know a number of my own little problems have snapped into place with astonishing speed once i found an effective way of looking at them.
    but it’s required me to run across (or develop) the rght idea at the right time.

    of course, there’s always time for a little regression…

  33. I guess you move on when you’re not scared that it will happen again in some form, whatever it is. Pain is so safe that way. I like this video-very refreshing.

  34. as i often mention here, my computer is 1000 years old but here i am, housesitting for a friend and using her new laptop! and yea i can watch the videos which are usually choppy on my old machine…

    anyway, this video was fascinating and i look fwd to reading the comments.

    my question is, even before reading the comments: how does one release that pain? pain from abuse or torture? (and abuse is torture in my opinion)

    wanting to let it go is not enough…

  35. weighing in: i think it depends on the person, whether they can release and “move on” or change, and i think that depends on fate, their chart, who they are, what supports they have around them. If i didn’t have my friends (a well aspected stellium in the 11th house), i’d might be homeless right now.

    i’ve seen people get broken and not recover. i’ve seen people get broken and recover through psychotropic meds (no judgement there) and then i think of myself, traumatic childhood, been through a lot and i keep going, sometimes in circles, sometimes ready to jump in the river, but keep going, mind and body intact. It’s a miracle. I feel for those who lose that miracle.

    The transits have been having their way with me this month. I’m grateful to be sitting here, watching Elsa’s videos!

  36. There is a lot of pressure not to heal in this culture, these days. It’s big biz for a lot of people to feed of people’s traumas.

    I agree with you — I was a victim of violent trauma and I got help and got past it without forgetting that it happened. It’s a part of me but need not rule me.

    Great video!

    • kr, I think that is going to flip 180 degrees, eventually. When it does, it will be like it happened overnight but the smart money is already there.

  37. Every action has a reaction. Those programmed old tapes can be activated and it is free will that says STOP, think things through. Some have more self control. Once you acknowledge that shadow reaction stuff, you can get a better handle on it. We get in out own way.

    The good side of this:
    I would have to appreciate a Soldier reaction in an emergency any day. That would be the auto pilot training that would kick in and save the day.

    Maybe it’s the emotion that causes the chaos.
    I like the Robert Hand explanation.

  38. I am going to have to assume my other post got lost in byte land. I really liked this video, Elsa. I think it brings up many issues that don’t get talked about publicly. At the very least, we could offer this as an option to people whilst not making people feel bad if it wasn’t the right fit.
    Plus, how do we define pathology? I’ve been cranky myself lately and have pretty much withdrawn from social activities. Is that pathology? I would argue we need the infinite range of human behaviors in order to keep the creativity of the human species ramped up.
    Even if the behavior is pathological & harms others – how could one method fit everyone? Also, aging has been a great help in sorting out what works for me & what doesn’t. Again, great video. It made me think of things in a different way & I do like that.
    Disclaimer: TR Uranus is applying to a conj. w/my NA Merc within a few degrees.

  39. Elsa, just want to say..i love your passion. It shows on your blog, & you bring up valid points of discussion that everyone here can completely relate to in some personal way. Be proud of it. & i think it’s wonderful you can have talks with a true soldier that i am sure knows more on pathology than any psychiatrist i have ever come across in my occupation.

    In my relation to stereo typing. I mentioned this on another post of yours Elsa last week, where another commenter here was basically blaming her/his daughters mental breakdown on the boyfriend that broke her/his daughters heart, & the fact he had Pluto in Scorpio. I kind of lashed back at her/him(?) replying that i felt deeply insulted (on behalf of my fellow Pluto-Scorpio generation, not just personally) that she/he was pinning their daughters mental break down with this boyfriend, due to the ‘boyfriend’ having Pluto in Scorpio in his chart. I have seen this kind of stereo typing toward Pluto Scorpio’s on quite a lot of astrology blogs in the past. & i wont f’ing pisses my off. Yes we are a different breed of Pluto, SOME of us are, yes, very strange. But we are not ALL a bunch of psychopathic dark crusaders that the stigma with a certain minority of astrology enthusiasts, has now grown to label the Pluto Scorpio generation.

    I am not going to let this scare me away from studying astrology & mingling with others that share the same passion on blogs, or anywhere for that matter. Because it is my choice to exert my free will on this.

    I do believe it is a persons FREE WILL that perpetuates ones own motives. Yes their are some horror stories out their from victims of Pluto-Scorpio kids of the apparent ‘deeply screwed up pathological generation’ but i ask, what generation has NOT had its psychopaths in history??

    My personal pathology = ”It is the intention behind the motivation, that proceeds in the action.”

  40. Also, my avatar pic speaks of no ‘dark crusader’ tenancies, btw… *hahmm!* 0_o


    OK..OK…so i like heavy music like Marylin Manson & etc etc..
    That don’t make me some kind of psycho though!

    I’m your typical 90’s bitch, yeah! I don’t care. I love it.

  41. Interesting video to come after your most recent post about DNA. You mentioned hard-wired personal philosophy, morals… if these things are ingrained, then how can one chose to let go of pathology? Today I was thinking about how my own religious/spiritual nature, and how I’m not sure when it’s to a fault, if it influences my behavior to be somewhat pathological. For example, I’m attracted to broken-wing types, I always want to help people who need it, and it may or may not be to my benefit in the end, I don’t know. For me, I think this relates a lot to choosing heaven or hell. Honestly I got kinda lost with the multiple topics in this video. I don’t really get how compassion and stereotypes relate here, or maybe I do get it internally but I just can’t synthesize the meaning of what you’re saying…

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