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

Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined AmericaIn This Highly Original And Hugely Entertaining Account, Barbara Ehrenreich Confronts The Cult Of Positive Thinking In America She Examines The Impact Of Positive Thinking On Religion, Medicine, Academia And The Business Community, And Exposes The Psychological Effects Of A World Which Tells Us To Put On A Happy Face From The Pink Ribbons And Platitudes That Surround Breast Cancer Sufferers To The Blind Optimism That Led To The Recent Economic Disaster, Ehrenreich Pokes Holes In Conventional Wisdom And Faux Science, And Ends With A Rallying Cry For Clarity And Courage. Boy is it nice to see someone exposing Positive fucking Psychology, The Secret, the prosperity gospel, and all the rest of the American happytalk crap I get so sick of it I get so fucking sick of it 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 and the required attendance pep rallies and the color coded performance scales with little medals and the cutesy slogans, and the kindergarten level decorations, and the endless teddygoddamnbears, and the bunting, and the smiles, smiles, smiles All of it designed to make you work harder and harder and quit bitching about it One guy I knew got in trouble for telling a caller, someone terminal, that Cancer sucks The issue wasn t slang so much as negativity You can t say cancer sucks Cancer does suck Currently, my old department is being eliminated and everyone laid off They are trying to be positive and they are all going nuts.Ehrenreich starts out with her experience with breast cancer Okay, so this is not the best time in my life to read this book, cause on Monday I am having a diagnostic mammogram Thanks again, Health NonProfit I m blaming you for this too I agree with Ehrenreich please let me die any other way t
Barbara Ehrenreich was first exposed to the dark side of the positive thinking movement when she was diagnosed with breast cancer Early into her cancer journey, she discovered that normal emotions such as anger and fear were being aggressively denied by those who believed that a positive attitude was crucial to survival Cultural skeptic that she is, Ehernreich poured through the literature on the subject and found that, not only did science fail to support the hypothesis that a positive attitude contributes to healing cancer, but that those who failed to recover from cancer often experienced an especially cruel form of victim blaming at the hands of those who were convinced that it was their own faulty negative thinking that kept them sick.This experience led Ehrenreich to explore in depth the concept of positive thinking and how it is currently experienced in America today She traces its roots back to the New Thought movement of the 19th century, a spiritualist reaction against Calvanism that gave birth to, among other things, Mary Baker Eddy s Christian Science Though nowhere near as depressing as Calvanism, these philosophies still heavily emphasized personal effort and striving, teaching that perfection was attainable if one worked hard enough and that problems in the physical body or external world were a
It was bad enough that Barbara Ehrenreich suffered from breast cancer what made it even worse was that so many people medical professionals as well as friends and acquaintances insisted that she be upbeat and positive about her affliction Now, in addition to feeling angry and scared, she had to feel guilty about not looking on the bright side Th
I always feel slightly guilty about my reaction to Barbara Ehrenreich s writing I do admire her she is ideologically committed, writes with passion, is on what I consider the correct side of the various social issues that concern her And yet somehow I always end up with these niggling reservations that prevent me from endorsing her books wholeheartedly In the case of Nickel and Dimed , probably her best known work, the niggling reservation was the artificiality of the whole endeavor the knowledge that the whole exercise of adopting the role of one of the working poor was undermined by the existing safety net Ehrenreich had available in her actual life Though it didn t invalidate her message, it seemed to me enough of a distraction to weaken the effectiveness of her presentation.Her recent book, Bright sided , has much to recommend it Ehrenreich s willingness to question received wisdom and dig deeper for answers, her characteristically clear thinking, expressed in clear and forceful prose Her central target in Bright sided is a U.S trait that is both a strength and a weakness the uniquely American faith in the power of positive thinking In the opening chapter, which I found the most powerful in the book, Ehrenreich describes her experience as a breast cancer patient There is an extensive, well organized network to which someone just diagnosed with breast cancer can turn for support One of the most prevalent mes
There is little point writing a review of a book once Lena has written one not, of course, that that will stop me.This is a wonderful book The main idea behind it is that we have developed a religious quite literally fervour for positive thinking The best bits of this book are when she talks about the Evangelical Churches in the US and how they have moved away from negative images like Jesus on the cross towards Jesus in a three piece business suit with a smile to let you know just how much he wants you to be rich I m not a Christian, but I would have thought that this particular bastardisation of Christianity is so far removed from Christ s message sell all you have and give it to the poor rings a bell that some Christians out there might even object to it I mean, it would be like saying Lenin just wants you to be rich but apparently Christians don t mind this new and updated message The other bit of this book that is very disturbing is where she continues the theme she started in Bait and Switch The Futile Pursuit of the American Dream in talking about just how obscenely wealthy the CEOs have became at the expense of the rest of us Before I get accused of the politics of envy I really do have to say that I don t envy CEOs in the least The people I have met who have been wealthy have also tended to be rather sad, self satisfied and obsessed with money to the point o
This Just InShort paragraphs and emoticons in reviews quadruple reading pleasure Shiny Happy PeopleApparently, forced happiness is crushing the spirit of the American workforce and driving ravenous capitalists to unstoppable heights of self delusion that contribute to the one hundred trillion dollars or so national debt I Love Your SmileMillions 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 Happiness is a Warm GunIn Ehrenreich s startling book, the spineless manipulative world of corporate blackmailing Disney oddly absent , is exposed as the contagious ideological malaria it is Don t Worry, Be HappyThe disillusioned and depressed in their millions are forced to feign happiness at the workplace despite the rancid capitalist cancer eating out their souls and then be grateful for the chance to work at all Joy UnlimitedThe American Dream has been a con job from the start but
Well, I basically slept my way through this That sounded wrong I was surprised and disappointed that I was so bored by this, especially since Ehrenreich s Nickel and Dimed On Not Getting By in America remains an invigorating favorite of mine Her brilliance, humor, and biting cynicism is still in effect here it s not as if her intelligence and wit has gone away however, I find the material to be sorely lacking.Ehrenreich starts out on a high note, with one of the strongest chapters in this book the chapter on breast cancer After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Ehrenreich finds her smart and cynical personality at odds with the relentless cheerfulness and consumerism promoted by the breast cancer industry She hates pink and she definitely doesn t want any fucking teddy bears But when she expresses her doubts, fears, concerns, and anger, she finds herself ostracized from the breast cancer survivor warrior community, scolded for expressing any kind of negativity or despair.She hears, over and over again Cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me In the most extreme characterization, breast cancer is not a problem at all, not even an annoyance it is a gift, deserving of the most heartfelt gratitude cancer is your ticket to your real life Cancer is the passport to the life you were truly meant to live Fuck tha
I enjoyed this book It left me feeling angry, which I regard as the highest praise Hurrah for realism however bleak and a pox on the blindness of optimism Or instead as the old joke goes lets draw the curtains and pretend the train is still moving Indeed this is a book that reminds me of Douglas Adams Electric Monk from a Dirk Gently adventure.The first chapter deals with her experien
Last year, while working in one of the roughest schools in one of the roughest districts of Orange County, I had a chance to see how the positive thinking self help movement had slimed its way into public education Each day at School X came with newly minted and labeled behavioral issues, expulsions, and cop cars, always cop cars Many of the kids were flirting with, or had already joined, local gangs, and during my last week a group of students caused a five car pile up by hurling rocks into passing traffic.Despite the poverty and often abusive situations in which many of these kids lived, the only remedy the principal could arrive with his fevered lack of imagination was chicken soup Real soup might have been better considering the crap they were being fed at school, but no, I m talking about Jack Canfield.Yes, indeed The school had made a deal with the Chicken Soup tripe spewing machine, and each week before their lessons for the day would commence, students were subjected to a three minute mini morals read in a cracked, schmarmy voice that made the After School Specials of the 70s seem weighty in comparison.I remember standing in the classroom one post Chr
I remember reading this line in Paul Coelho s The Alchemist When you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true I didn t think about it too much The book was full of such ridiculous but touchy feely warm and fluffy pronouncements But then I kept seeing this quote everywhere And Coelho is not the only one going around saying such vacuous platitudes The reason why so many people find such patently false absurdities charming or even inspiring has to do with the cuteness factor People don t really believe this stuff They just read it and feel nice and warm about it, and then go about their life The reason that I don t get the same nice and warm feeling about it must be my dry overanalyzing of everything and my particular brain chemistry That s what I ve been telling myself.It turns out I was completely wrong and didn t know about it It s not fluff It s much, much than that There s this thing called the Law of Attraction which basically sa