We all know of the extreme end of FDR psychology theory—this odd practice of defooing that Molyneux encourages (although not-so-publicly these days). And there is much speculation about how he manages to accomplish it.
I mean, how does one guy, operating out of a small home office in Canada, convince young people to regard their families and friends as evil, something to discard and never speak to again?
All of that is for other articles. This article is an overview of FDR psychology, the role it plays in Molyneux’s “community,” and the mystery behind its sudden and unexplained disappearance from public view.
There’s no mystery that something is changing in the way FDR presents itself to the public. I’ll describe some of that here. What is harder to explain are the reasons behind the change.
You see, the foundation—the very bedrock—upon which FDR was built is a psychology-philosophy connection. This is it: you are unable to truly grasp and pursue freedom because you were abused into accepting a slave mentality by your parents.
That’s the entire premise.
The way I see it, through the psychology-philosophy connection Molyneux has solved the problem of converting us to the pure freedom of anarchocapitalism. All it requires is a complete and utter rejection of parents by 16-to-early-20-year-olds worldwide. And after that we should be good as gold.
Before you encountered FDR, if you were entertaining the foolish notion that the transition from statism to minarchism to anarchism would require leadership, guidance, and the winning of hearts and minds through your persuasion and conviction, well think again. That’s just crazy talk.
The case of the vanishing theory
But now on to the mystery. Here’s the first part. From the beginning days of FDR, this summary of goals appeared on the home page:
Powerful ideas for all lovers of the logic of personal and political freedom – Freedomain Radio is one of the highest-rated podcasts on PodFeed. Topics range from politics to philosophy to psychology to economics to relationships to religion – and how to achieve real freedom in your life.
Today, this summary has been moved to the About page and has been slightly modified. First, since it has become obvious that any discussion of religion (beyond ridicule) is actually banned from FDR, the word religion was changed atheism. Fair play, in my opinion.
But there’s another, more interesting, word change. The word psychology has also been removed and replaced by the word science, even though very little science beyond psychology is ever discussed and nothing is more essential to truly understanding FDR than embracing its psychological theories.
So why the slight change? I think it may be related to the enormous one I’ll describe next.
Don’t ask the therapist
From the very beginning, Molyneux has stated that FDR is a joint vision and venture by he and his wife Christina. In one podcast, in fact, both of them suggest that Christina, perhaps even more than Molyneux, has been the guiding force behind FDR all along.
(From Podcast 724, Christina’s Resistance, now withheld from the public):
21:22 Stefan: “Well, and you made me into an internet philosopher, I am of your making.”
21:39 Christina: “I fed you the ideas that made Freedomain Radio different than any other philosophical podcast.”
Stefan: “Well, more than different. Different would be to say that my life is run by my bowl of oranges. But that’s not what you made, in terms of difference. You made it relevant, you made it personal, you made it have traction, you made it actionable, you gave, and not just in a comment, but in a series of lengthy discussions, you gave the basis of the show. The basis of the show is the logic of personal, personal and political freedom. I brought the political, who brought the personal?”
Christina: “Sadly, I did and this is what I’m struggling with. I orchestrated this, we orchestrated this together but I participated enormously in all this and now I hate it and now I don’t want to do it.”
Too late. Actually, by that time, Christina had already participated in many “Ask-a-Therapist” podcasts (in the beginning, they were advertised as A series of podcasts answering listener-sent psychological issues and questions with Christina from Meadowvale Psychotherapy…)
Listeners were solicited by Christina to participate in Ask-A-Therapist via an advertisement on FreeDomain Radio:
Do you have questions about mental health?
My name is Christina, and I am pleased to offer advice to the listeners of Freedomain Radio. I am a licensed and practicing Psychological Associate with over 15 years of experience in the field of mental health. Stefan and I will respond in podcast format to selected e-mails.
I take your privacy very seriously. As a result, I will…
- …not divulge your contact information
- …not mention your name or location without explicit permission
Note: Material submitted through the Ask a Therapist form is subject to being used in future podcasts.
Please feel free to use the form to ask about
- Family/Relationship/Marital Issues
- Work Issues
- Stress and Anxiety
- or whatever else is on your mind!
These podcasts were produced by Molyneux, and they consisted of Christina counseling an FDR caller through a particular issue, such as the ones listed above. At least 25 Ask-a-Therapist podcasts starring Christina have been produced. Many other podcasts featured Christina as well.
But at the end of 2009, without announcement or explanation, all of them (including the one I quoted from above) suddenly vanished from FDR.
You can no longer find a podcast with the voice of the woman who “orchestrated” FDR.
Let’s look at one more thing first.
Allow me to introduce myself. Or not.
At one time, if you clicked on the words in that original FDR summary I quoted above, each would lead to a broader introduction of the topic written by Molyneux. For example, if you clicked on the word Psychology, the following introduction was served up:
Introduction to Psychology
Psychological problems rank among some of the most expensive and pervasive ailments in society. In a given year, an estimated 26.2% of Americans ages 19 and older — about one in four adults — suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder — almost 60 million people in one country alone. In developed economies, mental illnesses, including suicide, account for over 15% of the burden of disease — more than the cost of all cancers.
My approach to psychology is to apply a tripartite analysis to the personality. At the most sensual or perceptual level, we all view and process reality as an objective environment that, as biological organisms, we must exist and succeed within. When we are thirsty, we do not pray to God for water, but rather get a glass and turn a tap. This part of our natures is almost always beyond the reach of false beliefs.
At the very deepest levels of our being, in our dreams, impulses, intuitions and most powerful emotions, we also tend to deal with reality in a very direct way. We cannot force ourselves to genuinely love a malevolent person, and we often feel depression, anger or alienation when forced to conform to the irrational desires of others. In the realm of dreams, we often experience the truth about our relationships, our environment and our lives through the powerful mythologies of the unconscious. This part of our nature is also almost always beyond the reach of false beliefs.
Between our surface senses and our deep inner lives, however, often lies an empty realm of fearful conformity, which I – and others – have labeled the “false self.” As children, most of us were not allowed to experience and express reality in an honest and straightforward manner, but rather we were compelled to repress the truth and inhabit the falsehoods preferred by our parents, relatives and teachers. This can be as seemingly-innocuous as being compelled to kiss a grandmother we dislike, or as openly disastrous as being forced to support the rank irrationality of an entire clan.
When we are compelled to reject our simple and direct relationship to reality and our own feelings, a deep split opens within us. The truth becomes offensive to those who control us, and so not only must we hide the truth, we must act in direct opposition to it — and look authentic while doing so! We become false actors, and then we forget the script. We start out our lives in a documentary of the senses, which quickly becomes a screenplay penned by the prejudices of others — and very quickly, to avoid the pain of conformity, we pretend that this new screenplay is in fact a documentary, and our capacity to process the truth is lost.
In order to retain our attachment to our parents, we substitute their irrational preferences for our direct reality, both exterior and interior. We are no longer allowed to ask “is this true?” but rather “will I be punished or praised for saying this?”
Thus our connection to our “true self” — the perceptual and the deeply emotional — is repressed, severed and opposed. To the degree that it is convenient for adults, we are allowed to retain the most basic reality processing, such as knowing that a lawnmower is required to cut grass, that garbage must go in a plastic bag, and that homework should be turned in on time. Our deeper questions, however, such as the nature of truth, virtue, reality and courage, are actively, unconsciously and endlessly opposed.
This opposition to our authentic experience of reality — and our rejection of that experience for fear of punishment — sets the stage for a lifetime of emotional problems such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, an inability to find love and, most egregiously, the re-infliction of the same harm on our own children.
At Freedomain Radio, we strive to undo these seemingly intractable problems through integrity, patience, introspection and conversation. The process of recovering the true self – while retaining the most useful aspects of the false self — is a deep, challenging, thrilling and scary journey, which can only be guided by a rigorous and logical philosophy based on universal principles and deep respect for our inner lives.
It is in conversation that we find ourselves. The problems caused by solitude cannot be solved by solitude.
I hope you will join the conversation!
For some reason, Molyneux also now hopes that you’ll never see this page. Just as the word Psychology has been removed from the summary, the only remaining vestige of this document is in the early draft Molyneux shared with his followers. There is no indication that Molyneux disavows any part of it. So why is it also part of the “psychology purge” at FDR?
You can see from this introduction how critical Psychology is to the FDR “community.” Molyneux’s (in my view, extremist) interpretation of Donald Winnicott’s True Self/False Self theory is basically that your parents psychologically (at minimum) abused you into creating a “false self,” just to protect yourself against them. And as you grew up, you began to accept that “false self” as your “real self,” just as your parents did before you. If you continue in that state too long before the Molyneux intervention, you will be lost forever.
Interestingly, in the passage above, Molyneux appears to take partial credit for creating the “true self/false self” labels. Is he contesting Winnicott’s creation or is he suggesting that his interpretations of the labels are quite different? (That may be true, to a degree.)
It’s probably no accident that Winnicott’s theory, as interepreted by Molyneux (that virtually everyone is abused and virtually everyone outside of FDR will grow up to embrace their false selves), makes one think of The Matrix:
Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.
FDR is riddled with “blue pill/red pill” Matrix references. No better metaphor for Molyneux’s belief—that virtually every parent abuses their children into “prisoner” mentalities—can be found.
The inevitable backlash
FDR and the unusual psychological theories of Molyneux and his wife ran happily under the radar until the end of 2008, when the first parent went public with her defoo story. Until that point, the few parents who made the connection between FDR and their child’s defooing and then confronted Molyneux on his web site were callously dismissed—told to get therapy and banned. Other parents suffered in silence. Since many defooers leave with a three-line note and no explanation (just as Molyneux and his wife did with their own respective families), there may be more than a few who do not know exactly why their kids suddenly quit speaking to them.
Barbara Weed changed everything. When she exposed FDR psychology and practices to public scrutiny in that first UK Guardian article, it set off a chain reaction that is still being felt today. At first, Molyneux crafted a response to the article and perhaps thought it would all blow over. But as 2009 continued, the articles and public speculation about what was going on at FDR continued. And the face of FDR evolved to what you see today.
Is that exposure the primary reason why FDR psychology has gone “underground”? The fear of further public scrutiny? Are there legal or licensing concerns? Is there a fear that Molyneux’s so-called Skype “convos” will be interpreted by some as offering therapy? Is there a concern that Christina may have stepped beyond the bounds of her license or what is permitted by a practicing therapist in the conversations she had with FDR members? Or is she perhaps concerned that a public exposure of her true psychological views will hurt her practice?
I don’t know. And I’m not suggesting that those are the reasons. Perhaps it was just “spring cleaning” as Molyneux claimed when one of his followers asked about these vanishing resources.
At any rate, the face of FDR changed dramatically after Barbara Weed stepped forward. None of the theories appear to have changed. I’ve never heard them repudiated or renounced. They’re just gone—slipped into the background, perhaps until you’ve become so established in the community you’re ready to hear them.
It’s almost as if another world has been pulled over your eyes to obscure the one behind it.
Now which pill are we supposed to take?