Positive thinking as social control

I found the following video in a blog post written by Zoë Siobhan Baillie (@Zoe_Baillie). The audio is an excerpt from a speech by Barbara Ehrenreich, where she elaborates on ideas from her book Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America.

Ehrenreich’s observations deserve to be understood and appreciated. Unfortunately, there’s a huge commercial market in positive thinking, so her insights face an uphill battle. Judging by the comments left on YouTube (e.g., “This seems like an incredibly shallow and nonsensical analysis”), the hill is quite steep.

At least the delightful animation in the video (provided by Cognitive Media) may enchant viewers into watching the entire excerpt. The complete version of Ehrenreich’s lecture (34 minutes) is available here, compliments of Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), which is “a 258 year-old charity devoted to creating social progress and spreading world-changing ideas.” Thank you, RSA.

Related posts:
The unavoidable and burdensome responsibility to be happy
The problem is you
The history of self-help: Some books to read
Self-help from Norman Vincent Peale to the new Oprah
Self-help as psychological healthism
The duty to be happy

References:

Zoë Siobhan Baillie, The powerlessness of positive thinking – Barbara Ehrenreich,
Zoë Likes Medical Anthropology, December 15, 2012

Barbara Ehrenreich, Smile or Die (video of complete lecture)

Barbara Ehrenreich, Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America (2009)

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