Personal Moral Autonomy, Responsibility and Choice: Do We Know What Our Cultural Discourses Are Doing to Young People’s Mental Health?
Neoliberalism has its roots in the post-enlightenment project of autonomy, freedom, and responsibility. We are each individual, unique selves, existing autonomously and independently of the particular contexts we find ourselves born into. We have the capacity to shape our thoughts and feelings, to make choices, to take responsibility for ourselves. The natural state of human beings is to be free, to be able to make choices according to preferences, to be able to steer our own ships, follow our own dreams and aspirations. Above all we must be true to ourselves—authentic, honest, sincere; these are the virtues of the twenty-first century. If we fail to have the life we want, it is our own fault—we have not made the right choices and are continuing not to make the right choices. In this chapter, I outline some of the ways in which this entrenched, twenty-first century, Western liberal ideology undermines and subverts mental health and, in particular, the mental health of children and adolescents.
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