Desire

The difference between desire and real willpower is particularly subtle, since for many persons desire is the only reason for wanting something. This confusion is so deeply ingrained that patients often object to the distinction, saying something like: "Well how do you expect me to want something if I don't desire it!"

This confusion usually prevents patients from making an effort of will. However, it can be avoided by making them aware of the difference between desire and willpower.

Only willpower is an active form of energy, and only willpower expresses freedom of choice; desire is passive, subjecting persons to blind attraction/repulsion reflexes.

If, as often occurs, we can reasonably want what we desire, it is only after desire has been tempered by judgment and freedom of choice. However, we should not wait for a desire to arise before wanting something, since this would mean giving up our freedom of choice.

Impulsiveness is the same as desire, but exerts an even stronger influence. It is a powerful form of mental energy, but it is also disorganized, with no built-in braking mechanism, and therefore not an expression of freedom.

Impulsiveness is even more dangerous than pure desire because it is less rational, and can dominate an individual's mind more completely.

Once again, patients who cannot differentiate between willpower and impulsiveness believe that they want what they impulsively decide to want, without realizing that they are, in fact, slaves to their own impulses.

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