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Jelliffe, S.E. Brink, L. (1918). Compulsion and Freedom: The Fantasy of the Willow Tree. Psychoanal. Rev., 5(3):255-268.

(1918). Psychoanalytic Review, 5(3):255-268

Compulsion and Freedom: The Fantasy of the Willow Tree

Smith Ely Jelliffe, M.D. and Louise Brink, A.B.

Freedom is synonymous with perfect health, and either denotes the goal of human striving. Both mark a return to the conception of the older etymologists, who conceived of health as the wholeness of man, which alone is perfect freedom. This is not the irresponsible liberty to do that which brings immediate pleasure or gain, unmindful of social duty or accountability, of one's relations to a society ordered toward the greatest good of the greatest whole. It is rather that freedom by which all one's powers are best directed toward progressive ends, and man has found through ages of trial and error that these are communal ends. Such freedom, bound to the social group in racial service, in reality releases man from fetters which cut him off from his fullest powers and opportunities. Contrary to a selfish liberty, it sets and keeps these powers free from that fullness of service which is creative achievement and grants him his place in the steady advance upon which the race long ago embarked.

Curtailing of freedom does not lie in external restriction and the limitation set by the differences and misunderstandings of the social group. These after all are but the stimulus and challenge to the really free soul. Fetters are rather within, self-forged, though often unwittingly so. “Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death ? “The physician is intent upon this cry as it comes daily to his ears. He knows well that the inner disease, however slightly it is sapping the strength and limiting the ability of his patient to take up the free and effective work which is abundantly at hand, or however great the inroads it makes into the inherent right of man to swing freely into the current of progressive thought and action—such disease is bondage to some inner weakness, insufficiency, ineffectualness. The psychological physician, the only one fitted to cope with this larger problem of man's adjustment to the demands of life, in which lie this freedom and health, is still more keenly aware of this question of relative freedom and bondage, which condition man's success.

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