The Illusion of Conscious Will

Nothing is more natural than to believe we have conscious control over our choices. Indeed most of social behaviour including the criminal justice system is predicated on that conviction. Harvard professor of psychology Daniel Wegner (d.2013 and argues that our actions ‘happen to us’ rather than us being in control of them. Wegner is no lightweight and he provides a wealth of experimental data in support of his view. He examines the issue from a variety of angles. He looks at well known illusions of the will – those cases where people feel that they are willing an act that they are not doing or, conversely, are not willing an act that they in fact are doing. He explores conscious will in hypnosis, Ouija board spelling, automatic writing, and facilitated communication, as well as in such phenomena as spirit possession, dissociative identity disorder, and trance channeling. The result is a book that concentrates on the impact in our lives of the illusion of conscious will.


The suspicion that free will is an illusion has even made it into the mainstream media. Have a look at See what you think. If Wegner is right your reaction will be out of your control.



Professor Daniel Wegner


419 pages in Bradford Books paperback edition

ISBN 978-0262731621

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