David Zuccolotto on The Illusion of Freedom

There is nothing better than the free silly spirit of an eight year old. Gangly, energetic and bouncing from one adventure to the next.  In a healthy family, life is secure and safe. Parents are in control and all their needs are met, allowing the freedom to let loose and enjoy life.

Then come the teenage years. Hormones, emotions and unpredictability. The militant search for autonomy, identity and self-esteem. What was once appreciated — parents and their rules — become restrictions and a threat to personal freedom.

This is the paradox of freedom. Childhood has the most rules and constraints yet the greatest freedom from psychological conflict. Versus the teenage years and taste of freedom which is frequently filled with psychological turmoil.

Dr. David Zuccolotto is a former pastor and clinical psychologist. | Courtesy of David Zuccolotto

Rules and authority seem like a contradiction as a pathway to freedom. As a teenager you would never convince me that any authority was a road to independence. To the contrary my conviction was, “Leave me alone, give me what I want and I will be happy and free.” I believed there was something inside humanity that held the truth, authenticity and meaning of life. I thought that parents, rules and God would suffocate my free expression and suppress the real me.

But life’s journey has taught me otherwise. Especially the experiences derived from my work as a psychologist.

For much of my career I worked in one of California’s wealthiest beach communities where millionaires, celebrities and national sports figures lived in plush oceanside estates.

One patient stands out in my mind. A prominent retired physician and professor. Profoundly depressed and complaining that life had no meaning — his career behind him and children gone. He had the “American Dream” but was a slave to life’s unanswered questions. The eternal questions. “Why am I here? “What happens when I die? What was the purpose of my life?”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, David Zuccolotto