Social Mimetic Desire
"We borrow our desires from others. Far from being autonomous, our desire for a certain object is always provoked by the desire of another person — the model — for this same object. This means that the relationship between the subject and the object is not direct: there is always a triangular relationship of subject, model, and object." [Mimetic Desire, from wikipedia.]
I'm not sure how much the claim that 'All desire is mimetic desire' can be defended, but mimetic desire definitely seems to be true about a large number of desires that I see people experiencing around me. In particular, there are desires that are socially endorsed; they exist by virtue of their large host population and they try to infect anyone coming into exposure with them. There are so many such desires, imperceptibly and unconsciously acquired through this mimetic mechanism. The Model in this case is the abstract Society. Mobiles, cars, houses, money, jewelery, love, engagements, marriages, vacations, education, jobs, fame... how much of it is the result of our society implanting the desires in us? Social Mimetic Desire makes us a slave to the society, because our desires and hence our happiness chains us to it.
You cannot truly be independent of the society until you also cast off the desires that still make you dependent on it; to whatever extent it is possible.
Of course, the desires you replace them with would probably have Models of their own. The champions of social rebellion, the people who inspired you, be it Russell or Marx, or your friends.
Nevertheless, a person who desires an Independent life, a Free life, is still chained to his desire, and to his Model... but it is not a desire that chains him to the abstract society.
Can there ever be a non-mimetic, truly original desire (apart from the desires born out of our physiological needs)? I would like to believe so, but I am not so sure how it can be explained in terms of the prevalent discipline of deterministic psychology.
After writing the post, I feel that the distinction I have made above between Social and Individual desires may not be entirely satisfactory. First, because "society" is a matter of subjective perception, and its boundaries are blurry. Secondly, individual desires may be as psychologically enchaining and harmful as social ones. Anyone who has experienced strong jealousy can understand that. And it is a particular type of jealousy: when you are jealous not because the particular person has something you want, but you want something because the particular person has it and you don't. Independence from such mimetic desires is also necessary for anyone who seeks independence.
Perhaps we can make another blurry distinction: we can divide desires into "superficial" and "deep". Deep desires would be those that are closest to our inner being, the person we are inside. Superficial are those that we have picked up from the society and individuals through the mimetic mechanism... desires that we would want to cast off if we become conscious of them and ask ourselves "Is this something I really want?" The more we can get rid of the superficial desires that burden our mind, the more free we would be.