Fear Of Freedom: Causes, Characteristics, Complaints, Treatment

Fear of freedom is a feeling linked to the uncertainty about the future. It can also be said that the fear of freedom is defined negatively as the absence of obstacles to realizing my will or my desires. However, this common-sense definition seems to clash with the very reality of desire: if my passion drives me, am I free?

Freedom then seems to be opposed to necessity and determinism: the free man would be the one who could act and think for himself, that is, without this action or thought resulting from a cause beyond his control. Freedom is then defined as free will: the psychological ability to make decisions without being pushed by an external cause.

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It causes

  • To wonder if it is possible to be afraid of freedom is to question the compatibility between fear and freedom.
  • A priori, one would tend to think that freedom is the object of a desire, not a fear. However, is it so apparent that freedom is necessarily desirable?
  • Fear is a feeling linked to the uncertainty about the future, which is why it is connected to our ignorance, to our inability to determine if the thing we are facing will harm us.
  • Freedom is opposed to necessity and determinism: the free man would be the one who would be able to act and think for himself, that is, without this action or thought resulting from a cause beyond his control.
  • Autonomous, he would then be responsible for his actions.

Freedom is then defined as free will, the psychological ability to make decisions without being pushed by an external cause. But then, is it possible to flee from one’s freedom or to renounce it voluntarily? What’s so scary about it? Is there any reason to want to introduce myself? And for what reasons, after all, would freedom necessarily be an object of desire?


  • First, we will see that it is impossible to be afraid of being free insofar as freedom is the object of desire. But isn’t space always an effort, and isn’t it impossible to avoid it?
  • Second, we will see that it is possible to fear freedom insofar as it is like a fear linked to uncertainty, making us responsible.
  • Finally, we will see that if freedom seems necessarily terrifying, this fear does not imply that release must be run away.
  • It is impossible to be afraid of freedom
  • Freedom is desirable
  • At first, one may think that freedom, far from being terrifying, is desirable and that, in this sense, fear and freedom are incompatible.
  • Indeed, it seems that freedom is the object of a universal desire. There is a tendency to flee, on the contrary, from alienation, from submission, like everything that can come to hinder freedom.

Who would complain about being too free?

  • Giving up freedom, choosing submission, seems inconceivable since we are made to be free. Kant indicates that freedom is defined as autonomy: if the man is made for freedom, it is under his nature to be reasonable.
  • Kant being this faculty by which we can free ourselves from any foreign determination, of finding our principles of action, and this faculty being genuinely human, we can say that man is made to be free.
  • In this sense, to be afraid of freedom would be to fear being a man, to be scared of being realized.
  • Fear is linked to an object we perceive as strange to us, dark, and therefore threatening. How would it be possible to be afraid of freedom that we overcome by developing what is cleanest for us, our reason?

But freedom does not appear as a gift but rather presupposes an effort to free oneself from what can hinder it and develop: is it not possible to retreat from this effort?

Is it possible to be afraid of freedom?

possible to be afraid of freedom

To be free is to renounce the comfort of obedience

In the second stage, it is necessary to ask what it means to be free. If the fear of freedom seems unjustifiable at first glance, one can nonetheless wonder why so many men are compelled to submit:

  • Do they renounce freedom by force or under a calculation of interest born of fear?
  • It is precisely this fear that he examines in What is the Enlightenment? Showing that if we all can free ourselves from our teaching, in fact, “laziness and cowardice” can incline us to renounce the exercise of our freedom, always a dangerous practice, in favor of the comfort of obedience.
  • It is possible, then, to be afraid of freeing oneself. Being free also means taking responsibility for one’s own mistakes and failures, which the “tutors” who keep us in our “minority,” maintaining this fear, never cease to emphasize.

To be free is to take responsibility.

  • Nietzsche examines this dangerous dimension of freedom in the Genealogy of Morals, affirming that the fiction of free will was born from the will to punish men.
  • Indeed, it is not only possible to be afraid of being free, but, says Nietzsche, the invention of freedom defined as free will, that is, as the psychological capacity to make decisions, is explained by the desire to make men responsible for their actions and, therefore, liable to be punished.

Being responsible is being responsible for your actions and thus being able to answer for them before others:

  • It would be to punish men that one had invented this strange idea that we would be endowed with free will, while everything in nature leads us to doubt the existence of free choices.
  • But if it is possible to be afraid of being free, if we can be pushed into fear of our freedom, or if freedom defined as free will is a fiction meant to scare men, does this imply that we must flee from freedom?

Freedom is scary and requires courage.

Freedom opens the unknown.

The distinction between what is possible and what is necessary is one of the benchmarks of his program:

You can develop this distinction, which is the basis for the articulation between the second and third parts, since first it is shown that it is possible to be afraid of freedom, and then that this fear is inevitable.

Finally, it seems that it is not only possible but necessary to be afraid of freedom: in other words, you cannot be scared of being free.

Suppose freedom opposes both mechanism and necessity or determinism. In that case, it opens us to the unknown, to the unpredictable. In this sense, it seems necessarily terrifying if fear arises from uncertainty or the impossibility of foreseeing something.

Important aspects

However, different attitudes to fear are possible:

  • If the coward flees, the brave face his fear.
  • Therefore, the fear of freedom does not necessarily imply that it can be renounced in the name of that fear.
  • Freedom means that we separate ourselves from the sole concern for survival.
  • That the exercise of liberty is risky and requires courage is particularly proven by experts.
  • For the ancient Greeks, he explains, freedom corresponds to the status of the free man, who is dedicated to the field of political affairs, to the area of action, understood as one who opposes the occupation of repetition and cyclicality proper the biological life.


  • The exercise of freedom understood as the power to act, requires courage, the ability to face one’s fear.
  • Courage frees men from their concern for life for the benefit of the world’s freedom; That is why you should visit a specialist and undergo treatments that allow you to overcome your fear of freedom.
  • Courage is essential because, in politics, life is not at stake but freedom.
  • In other words, courage, the attitude that consists in detaching oneself from the exclusive concern of biological life without despising it, is necessary to exercise freedom.


  • In the end, we can say that freedom can not only be terrifying. It necessarily implies fear.
  • In this sense, it is impossible not to be afraid of freedom. It exposes us to effort, the risk of failure, and responsibility and opens us to the unknown and the unpredictable.
  • On the contrary, freedom would presuppose courage, understood as the ability to face fear to live a genuinely human life, that is, free.

Georgia Tarrant
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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.