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Can a Person Really Change Beliefs?

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From a young man in the U.S.: I wanted to understand the link between the upbringing of one , past experiences ,and past ideologies and how much it can affect ones current reasoning. Does a person have utter and complete freedom to change his reality or would there always be a faction of his brain leading him to a biased conclusion because of his past experience. For example can a person fully understand and change his reality without his brain affecting that decision based on his past. In other words , a person who grew up in a religion , and changes his religion, can he or she be able to fully accept a new belief and formulate a new truth based ok current thinking and not be influenced by the past. In other words how much control do humans have to truly shape their reality based on their logic and not be biased based on any past experiences or at least not make a decison base on that fully.

Can a Person Really Change Beliefs?

Answered by on -

A.

The human mind is a remarkable thing. Sometimes people go through what are called “conversion experiences”. When that happens, the person abandons previously held beliefs and adopts the new religion to the exclusion of their old one. There are powerful examples of this throughout history. You can find numerous personal stories of conversions on the internet.

Although the word is usually used in connection with religion, the same can be true of changing other strongly held personal beliefs. We’re seeing some of that in the current political climate. Some people who were in one political party are so upset with what is happening that they shift to another.

Sometimes “conversions” happen when someone abandons a habit. Often this happens because the individual has been frightened by, say, a medical diagnosis, or enlightened by new and powerful information.  It’s been said that there is no one more anti-smoking than a former smoker, for example, who has been told that their lungs were precancerous or who lost someone to lung cancer. They not only don’t smoke but they try to get everyone they know who is a smoker to join them in their new life choice.

I’m not clear if those are really examples of “conversion” so much as an expression of someone’s need to reinforce their own decision until it “sticks”. But it is an effective way to change a habit or a belief system. In that sense, it answers your question. Yes, people can change their beliefs due to logic or because they have had a powerful emotional experience that causes a fundamental change in how they see things.

I wish you well.

Dr. Marie

Can a Person Really Change Beliefs?

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Can a Person Really Change Beliefs?. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 18, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2018/12/25/can-a-person-really-change-beliefs/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 23 Dec 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 23 Dec 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.