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

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

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A sharp-witted knockdown of America's love affair with positive thinking and an urgent call for a new commitment to realism

Americans are a positive people--cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat: this is our reputation as well as our self-image. But more than a temperament, being positive, we are told, is the key to success and prosperity.

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. Evangelical mega-churches preach the good news that you only have to want something to get it, because God wants to prosper you. The medical profession prescribes positive thinking for its presumed health benefits. Academia has made room for new departments of positive psychology and the science of happiness. Nowhere, though, has bright-siding taken firmer root than within the business community, where, as Ehrenreich shows, the refusal even to consider negative outcomes--like mortgage defaults--contributed directly to the current economic crisis.

With the mythbusting powers for which she is acclaimed, Ehrenreich exposes the downside of America's penchant for positive thinking: On a personal level, it leads to self-blame and a morbid preoccupation with stamping out negative thoughts. On a national level, it's brought us an era of irrational optimism resulting in disaster. This is Ehrenreich at her provocative best--poking holes in conventional wisdom and faux science, and ending with a call for existential clarity and courage.

Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of numerous books, including Dancing in the Streets and The New York Times bestsellers Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch. A frequent contributor to Harper's and The Nation, she has also been a columnist at The New York Times and Time magazine.

In Bright-sided, Barbara Ehrenreich reveals how the positive thinking movement, though seemingly harmless, has in fact deluded America and played a role in some of the most destructive events in recent U.S. history. Far from just a healthy mindset, bright-siding is an epidemic of self-deception that has spread to all circles of American life, from preachers who celebrate the power of prayer, to doctors who promote optimism's healing abilities. It led officials to overlook clues of 9/11 and overestimate the strength of New Orleans' levees, and enabled the business world to make egregiously unsafe loans that caused the worst financial crisis since World War II. Ehrenreich exposes the consequences of the belief that positive thinking is the key to achieving success and prosperity--a notion which, at its most dangerous, prevents people from even considering the negative outcomes of major events or their own actions.

Synopsis:

A sharp-witted knockdown of Americas love affair with positive thinking and an urgent call for a new commitment to realism.

Synopsis:

A sharp-witted knockdown of Americas love affair with positive thinking and an urgent call for a new commitment to realism

Americans are a “positive” people—cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat: this is our reputation as well as our self-image. But more than a temperament, being positive, we are told, is the key to success and prosperity.

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. Evangelical mega-churches preach the good news that you only have to want something to get it, because God wants to “prosper” you. The medical profession prescribes positive thinking for its presumed health benefits. Academia has made room for new departments of “positive psychology” and the “science of happiness.” Nowhere, though, has bright-siding taken firmer root than within the business community, where, as Ehrenreich shows, the refusal even to consider negative outcomes—like mortgage defaults—contributed directly to the current economic crisis. 

With the mythbusting powers for which she is acclaimed, Ehrenreich exposes the downside of Americas penchant for positive thinking: On a personal level, it leads to self-blame and a morbid preoccupation with stamping out “negative” thoughts. On a national level, its brought us an era of irrational optimism resulting in disaster. This is Ehrenreich at her provocative best—poking holes in conventional wisdom and faux science, and ending with a call for existential clarity and courage.

About the Author

Barbara Ehrenreich is the bestselling author of sixteen previous books, including Nickel and Dimed, Bait and Switch, Bright-sided, This Land Is Their Land, Dancing In The Streets and Blood Rites. A frequent contributor to Harper's and The Nation, she has also been a columnist at The New York Times and Time magazine. Visit Barbara Ehrenreich's website at www.BarbaraEhrenreich.com.

Table of Contents

Introduction     1

Smile or Die: The Bright Side of Cancer     15

The Years of Magical Thinking     45

The Dark Roots of American Optimism     74

Motivating Business and the Business of Motivation     97

God Wants You to Be Rich     123

Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness     147

How Positive Thinking Destroyed the Economy     177

Postscript on Post- Positive Thinking     195

Notes     207

Acknowledgments     223

Index     227

Product Details

ISBN:
9781427208361
Subtitle:
How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America
Publisher:
Macmillan Audio
Read by:
Reading, Kate
Read:
Reading, Kate
Author:
Ehrenreich, Barbara
Author:
Reading, Kate
Subject:
Anthropology - Cultural
Subject:
Sociology - General
Subject:
General
Subject:
anthropology;cultural anthropology
Edition Description:
Unabridged
Publication Date:
20091013
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
6 CDs, 8 hours
Dimensions:
6.02 x 5.26 x 0.63 in
Media Run Time:
480

Related Subjects

Audio Books » Nonfiction
Audio Books » World Affairs

Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America
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Product details pages MacMillan Audio - English 9781427208361 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
A sharp-witted knockdown of Americas love affair with positive thinking and an urgent call for a new commitment to realism.
"Synopsis" by , A sharp-witted knockdown of Americas love affair with positive thinking and an urgent call for a new commitment to realism

Americans are a “positive” people—cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat: this is our reputation as well as our self-image. But more than a temperament, being positive, we are told, is the key to success and prosperity.

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. Evangelical mega-churches preach the good news that you only have to want something to get it, because God wants to “prosper” you. The medical profession prescribes positive thinking for its presumed health benefits. Academia has made room for new departments of “positive psychology” and the “science of happiness.” Nowhere, though, has bright-siding taken firmer root than within the business community, where, as Ehrenreich shows, the refusal even to consider negative outcomes—like mortgage defaults—contributed directly to the current economic crisis. 

With the mythbusting powers for which she is acclaimed, Ehrenreich exposes the downside of Americas penchant for positive thinking: On a personal level, it leads to self-blame and a morbid preoccupation with stamping out “negative” thoughts. On a national level, its brought us an era of irrational optimism resulting in disaster. This is Ehrenreich at her provocative best—poking holes in conventional wisdom and faux science, and ending with a call for existential clarity and courage.

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