present. This gives any person who tries to be a determinist an
awesome responsibility, much as Reality Therapy does when such a
therapist asks the client, "What do you want to happen in your life?"
and "What do you need to do to make it happen?"
Effectiveness, advantages and dangers
There is no proof that all behavior is lawfully determined;
determinism is a faith, a reasonable assumption. However, human life
is so complex and chaotic that many or most future events can not be
controlled with certainty. There are no known studies of the impact of
starting to think like a determinist. Casual observation suggests that
psychology students, steeped in the science of behavior, become more
and more accepting of their clients' aberrant or even cruel behavior as
they become more knowledgeable and empathic. They see the
undesirable behavior as less despicable. As we learn to see the world
the way another person sees it, we understand the other person
better. (I know of no evidence, however, that psychologists are
unusually empathic with spouses, bosses, persons who rip them off,
politicians, competitors or critics; perhaps an empathic attitude is
situation specific. Indeed, I am bothered by my own greater empathy
for a murderer or drug dealer than for a self-serving, arrogant
administrator.) Thinking empathically or like a determinist may not
generalize easily from one situation to another, but, at least, it seems
to be possible.
The advantages of determinism are spelled out above. This belief is
not dangerous, unless you abhor the idea that humans operate
lawfully like all the rest of the universe.
Trying a New Lifestyle
Trying a new life style (Fixed Role Therapy)
A generation ago, George Kelly (1963) observed that people have
certain views and explanations of what is happening in their lives.
Thus, every one is a scientist; we all have theories about the world.
Those theories (Kelly's "constructs") change as we get new
information, as we see things happening differently than we thought
they would. The cute 17-year-old who believes her Dad will buy her a
nice car, if she begs him for it, has to change her mind (her construct
about Dad being a soft touch and in her control) when he says, "No,
but I'll help you get a job so you can buy one."
We keep our ideas that predict events (how Dad will react) and
revise our ideas that don't fit reality. Problems, in general, result from