When author Barbara Ehrenreich was diagnosed with breast cancer, she In her new book, Bright-Sided, Ehrenreich explores the negative. Barbara Ehrenreich thinks the prevalence of bogus optimism has weakened America, and she is willing to shoot fish in barrels to make that. Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America,” the new book by Barbara Ehrenreich, is based on.

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Gone is the mystery and awe; he has been reduced to a kind of majordomo or personal assistant.

‘Bright-Sided’: When Happiness Doesn’t Help

Some of these claims are exaggerated, as we shall see, though positive feelings hardly need to be justified, like exercise or vitamin supplements, as part of a healthy lifestyle. Religion has changed in the last 20 years. It turns out that the difference between flying which humans have been longing to do for as long as we’ve had imaginative powers and warping innocent ehremreich which NOBODY wants to do, because it’s stupid, plus if you wanted a spoon in a different shape than usual, you could just special-order one is that a child flying is measurable and filmable and duh-obvious.

People were so depressed due to their restrictive religion that practically sides happiness that their feelings manifested in bodily illness. Jul 03, Elyse Walters rated it barbsra was amazing. This experience led Ehrenreich to explore in more depth the concept of positive thinking and how it is currently experienced in America today. We need to brace ourselves for a struggle against terrifying obstacles, both of our own making and imposed by the natural world.

‘Bright-Sided’: When Happiness Doesn’t Help : NPR

But here in considering ‘positive psychology’ we get back to Calvinism. And where did it come from? Its bullshit has been around since before Norman Vincent Peale. And she backs it up with facts and research, not just kvetching. God, I got so sick of it at the Health NonProfit Call Center I worked at–all the smileys and balloons and cheery emails with little animated cartoons “Join me on the coverage train!


Her rigorous and though-provoking work on this topic is a deep service to a culture addicted to denial. Oct 14, Sara rated it really liked it Shelves: No, the author argues.

But rather than provided emotional sustenance, the sugarcoating of cancer can exact a dreadful cost. And Coelho is not the only one going around saying brivht vacuous platitudes. In fact, here in Australia we are being told precisely what Barbara quotes was being said in the US nright to the little problem they had over there with that sub-prime mortgages thing from a couple of years back – isn’t it amazing how quickly that stuff fades into the background.

In this utterly original take on the American frame of mind, Barbara Ehrenreich traces the strange career of our sunny outlook from its origins as a marginal nineteenth-century healing technique to its enshrinement as a dominant, almost mandatory, cultural attitude.

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The interview that Ehrenreich conducts with their president Martin Segilman is notable, in that her scepticism – which ought to be welcomed by a scientist – turns this guru of positive thinking into an ill mannered and ratty prima donna. Eventually she gets round to the ‘science’ of this, which turns out to be as flakey as one might expect of an outlook which endorses to ‘infinity and beyond’ coupled with a refusal to acknowledge criticism – the smell of money attracts more than just flies.

Evangelical mega-churches preach the good news that you only have to want something to get it, because God wants to “prosper” you.

In fact, one of the classics of sociology, Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalismmakes a still impressive case for capitalism’s roots in the grim and punitive outlook of Calvinist Protestantism, which required people to defer gratification and resist all pleasurable temptations in favor of hard work and the accumulation of wealth.

Endless exponential growth sounds like just the ticket and can I interest you in a perpetual motion machine? It was bad enough that Barbara Ehrenreich suffered from breast cancer: Your mileage may vary.

The biggest “come-uppance,” to use Krugman’s term, has so far been the financial meltdown of and the ensuing economic crisis. All of it designed to make you work harder and harder and quit bitching about it.


As people lost their jobs en masse, middle-class workers, sacked by CEOs who were themselves entirely removed from the morality of the situation, these ordinary folk were expected to be optimistic about everything. The stuff comparing Calvinism and Positive Thinking is really interesting. A ehrwnreich technique called “going to level,” which is a fancy phrase for closing your eyes and timing your breathing to coincide with counting backwards from three.

You must have done something wrong.

Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America

The medical profession prescribes positive thinking for its presumed health benefits. Her comments on how many of the devout poor were convinced the predatory mortgages they were being offered a few years back were a gift from God were particularly poignant.

In order to have an informed opinion, I think both sides need to be investigated. By the late first decade of the twenty-first century, as we shall see in the chapters that follow, positive thinking had become ubiquitous and virtually unchallenged in American culture.

Almost everyone acknowledges that our health care system is “broken” and our physical infrastructure crumbling. The first chapter deals with her experience of breast cancer – did I mention this is cheerful book – her points in passing here the association of I enjoyed this book. I Love Your Smile Millions of unemployed people, many middle-class professionals, have been forced into taking minimum wage jobs, in which any negative comments are met with a swift and firm dismissal.

Those who set themselves up as instructors in the discipline of positive thinking — coaches, preachers, and gurus of various sorts — have described this effort with terms like “self-hypnosis,” “mind control,” and “thought control.

Feb 16, Allison DeLauer rated it it was amazing.