Independent Judgment and Introspection: Fundamental Requirements of the Free Society

Jerry Kirkpatrick
Kirkpatrick Books (2019)
ISBN 9780978780357
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (09/19)

“Independent Judgment and Introspection: Fundamental Requirements of the Free Society,” by author Jerry Kirkpatrick is a read that will have you re-thinking your past thoughts on independent judgment, how it impacts you and those around you, and living in a society that does not accept independent thinking and actions.

Kirkpatrick states “The aim of this book is to explore the nature of independent judgment and its relationship to the free society. Throughout the journey, we will find that psychology, especially the skill of introspection, plays a significant role in developing and maintaining independence in the individual and in generating the desire to live in a free society.”

Independent judgment is the ability and freedom to express one’s mind without the fear of what others will think of us, which might include disapproval, rejection and self-doubt. We all would like to think that we have the ability to say what we think without all the dreaded drama that comes with it, but sadly very few of us do. Choice and self-assertion are seen as a disruption of authority and disobedience. In reality, they are signs of developing self-esteem and personal identity.

Can independent judgment be taught? Yes, but it must start at an early age. Children, of course, need to be given love and support, but they also need to be given freedom, within limits appropriate to their maturity, to choose their own values. And they need to be allowed to learn from their mistakes.

The author discusses many theories and thoughts on independent judgment, one of which external control, is the belief that we know what is best for others and that we have the right to impose legislation, laws, regulations, and other edicts to force citizens to do or not do what the politicians think is best. External control psychology assumes and attempts to invoke, dependence. It is the real root of dictatorship.

Internal control psychology, on the other hand, is the foundation of independent judgment. It assumes that each of us controls our own destiny by choosing our values and behaviors. Interaction with others is conducted through reason and logic, that is, persuasion, rather manipulative behavior such as verbal, emotional or physical abuse which often starts in childhood.

I found Kirkpatrick’s book very informative, well researched with numerous examples and references. Even though it is only 206 pages it is a book one will need to read slowly to absorb the facts and information as it does read like a textbook.

Regarding the definition of a Free Society, it is stated that there are two requirements: a strong sense of self-esteem and a willingness to take personal responsibility for one’s life. Throughout the book the term, “correct perception” is used frequently.  I have some difficulty with that term as who is to say what is correct? For me it is like saying “normal behavior.”

Sometimes independent judgment may go against the will of the majority or the convictions of family, friends, or colleagues, but toleration of such convictions is precisely what defines the free society and powers it to new heights of freedom and accomplishment. Giving in, succumbing to fear, wearing blinders, going along with the status quo, and other forms of compromising what we see, and are willing to say and do, thwarts happiness by undermining our sense of identity and compels us to resort to compensating behaviors.

“Independent Judgment and Introspection” is highly informative, factual and thought-provoking. Readers will love the food for thought and self-reflection provided by Jerry Kirkpatrick. I highly recommend this book.