Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich

I'm intrigued by Barbara Ehrenreich's new book, which attacks the positive thinking movement in American culture. Below is a 43-minute interview that Hanna Rosin of Double X conducted with Ehrenreich about it. The interview really whetted my appetite. In it, Ehrenreich discusses the long history of positive thinking in American history and its influence in corporate culture, psychology, and theology.

Ehrenreich first encountered positive thinking in a meaningful way when she was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago. At a support group website, she expressed her feelings of anger at the disease. Commentors rebuked her and urged her to think positively, rather than negatively, if she wanted to recover from cancer. Thus began her journey to this book, which included an exploration of idea of the modern CEO and a visit to Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church.

It sounds quite fascinating, and I will probably read the book when it becomes available.


larry said...

I heard a portion of the interview she gave either on NPR a week or two back (Fresh Air, maybe?) - fascinating. I also hope to read it when my local library gets it!

Anonymous said...

I just saw her book at Broders. It was buried near the back and the salesman, who was unfamiliar with it, looked it up and said it was a slow seller. Yet, as I came in the door, there was Joel Osteen's new book stacked up and two people standing in line with it in their hand. The salesman said it was selling fast.
I guess people prefer optimism over pessimistic "realizm."
As I looked at the other books Barbara Ehrenreich has written, I could see that her theme runs throughout. As I stood near the back where her few books were buried, I felt sorry for her. It became a decision moment for me. I am choosing optimism.

Mark said...

One of my close relatives is an Ehrenreich disciple, one of the most miserable and whiny people I know. I'll pass on the book.

John said...

Mark, do you consider this to be a coincidence?

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