Choice Theory as developed by William Glasser, MD does have one aspect to it that really does need clarification, a task that can achieve fruition by simply reflecting on the ideas stated below. The aspect is this: what does it really mean that I choose, in the end, all that happens to me? So and so left me with an incredible burden; I thought that this person was my friend and you can’t believe what this person did; does this mean that a bipolar person or a schizophrenic person is this way by choice? I said that clarification would be needed! Everyone who goes through a William Glasser program has thoughts and questions along such lines. Why should you be different?
First off, considering that Dr. Glasser was a medically trained psychiatrist, you can expect that he realized the reality of brain dysfunction and chemical imbalances. These biological aspects do very much exist. What he was looking at was everything outside such experiences of life. Do you remember the movie “Cast Away” with Tom Hanks? He plays a man marooned on an island for at least several years. His only friend, so to speak, is a sports ball, I forget if it is either a soccer or a basketball. He calls it Wilson, which seems to be the manufacturer. In any case, a day comes when he is able to leave the island. He figures out how. And, quite naturally he takes the ball with him. Alas, while at sea it rolls off his constructed raft, leaving him with a great deal of grief. Now, when we watch the movie we understand well enough why he is crying so hard. He lost his friend. However, let us see someone talking to themselves on the street. What do we say to ourselves? Isn’t it along the lines of “Why, this person has a mental illness.”
More to the point, a good number of mental illnesses are not connected to any brain dysfunction. Rather, much like the role that the actor Tom Hanks played in the movie, many such people are simply lonely. They do not have as much as one good relationship in their life. The pharmaceutical drugs that they take treat the symptoms, but not the actual cause. These people need a friend. For this reason, the relationship of the therapist/counselor and the client is so very important.
The mind can be incredibly creative. If we can see, we can see crazy things. If we can think, we can hear voices in our head. Dreams are crazy, but we don’t take notice of them, so that’s ok. But if our creative mind allows us to see crazy things outside of ourselves, that will prove to be a problem. If we are starved for a relationship seriously enough, we may very well have such experiences.
So, because we are lonely, and because we are making wrong decisions in dealing with it, in this “sense” we are choosing it. This is very understandable. We presume that external control society is correct. Therefore, I am feeling this or that way because someone did this to me; or that my brain is doing this to me. The truth is, according to William Glasser, is that I am doing this to me. I am making wrong decisions. The Catholic Church would say the same with its concept of “Free Will.” The Church believes that at a certain age we reach the “age of reason.” At this point we can choose to be with God or against God. And I will face the results of my choosing. Therefore I will need to always cleanse myself. I can go to confession. I can pray, or attend Mass more frequently.
In William Glasser’s theory of choice, I can learn to make better decisions. I can get somebody to help me to do so. I can be determined to change, committed to being there for others. I don’t have to live in my head. The Catholic Church says I am free to take Christ’s hand and walk the road towards salvation. Glasser says that I can choose to have a healthier frame of mind. I can choose to have a healthier perspective on life and be happy.