Bright-sided : how the relentless promotion of positive thinking has undermined America

by Ehrenreich, Barbara.

Format: Print Book 2009.
Availability: Available at 20 Libraries 21 of 21 copies
Available (21)
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Bethel Park Public Library Nonfiction 155.2 EH
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Bridgeville Public Library Nonfiction 155.2 EHR
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C.C. Mellor Memorial Library Non Fiction 155.2 Ehr
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CLP - Allegheny Regional Non-Fiction Collection BF698.35.O57 E37 2009
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CLP - Main Library Mezzanine - Non-fiction BF698.35.O57 E37 2009
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CLP - Main Library Mezzanine - Non-fiction BF698.35.O57 E37 2009
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CLP - Sheraden Non-Fiction Collection BF698.35.O57 E37 2009
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CLP - Squirrel Hill Non-Fiction Collection BF698.35.O57 E37 2009
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Carnegie Library of McKeesport Nonfiction 155.232 Eh84
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Cooper-Siegel Community Library Non-Fiction 155.2 EHR
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Cooper-Siegel Community Library - Sharpsburg Non-Fiction 155.2 EHR
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Crafton Public Library Adult - Non-Fiction 155.232 EHRENREI 2009 CRAFTON 10/09
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Green Tree Public Library Adult Nonfiction 155.2 EHR
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Moon Township Public Library Non-Fiction SELF HELP 155.2 EHRENREICH
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Northern Tier Regional Library Nonfiction 155.232 EHREN
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Pleasant Hills Public Library Nonfiction 155.2 E33
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Robinson Library Non-Fiction 155.232 EHRENREIC
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Sewickley Public Library Nonfiction 155.232 EHR 2009
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Shaler North Hills Library Non-Fiction 155.232 E
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Wilkinsburg Public Library Nonfiction 155.2 EHR
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Summary

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 hasmade 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.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "*Starred Review* Best-selling author Ehrenreich believes Americans have succumbed to the cult of cheerfulness to the point where we have left ourselves vulnerable to chicanery on nearly every front, from rosy military and economic forecasts to overblown promises grounded in religious faith. Ehrenreich examines the prevalence of positive thinking in American culture and its not-so-positive implications. How did the nation go from the stark limits of Calvinism to the broad horizons offered by Oprah Winfrey and Joel Osteen? Ehrenreich examines the historic roots and figures behind positive thinking, among them, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Norman Vincent Peale, and Dale Carnegie. She traces those pioneers straight to today's mega-church preachers and televangelists, including Robert Schuller and Rick Warren. Corporations and the government have also succumbed to positive thinking with disastrous results, according to Ehrenreich, as she argues that the Bush administration pushed rosy predictions regarding the war in Iraq and the financial sector blinded itself to the reality of home and stock values. Psychology has also helped fuel a cottage industry life coaches and motivational speakers who strongly imply that any shortcoming is the result of failing to think positively. Ehrenreich highlights the dark side of American optimism: a willful suspension of reality. And the pressure on those who think less than positively is enormous, Ehrenreich asserts, citing her own experience with breast cancer and being repelled by the sugar-coating of the disease. In this wide-ranging and stinging look at the pervasiveness of positive thinking, Ehrenreich warns against a reckless optimism that causes individuals and nations not to plan for inevitable downturns and disasters.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2009 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) delivers a trenchant look into the burgeoning business of positive thinking. A bout with breast cancer puts the author face to face with this new breed of frenetic positive thinking promoted by everyone from scientists to gurus and activists. Chided for her anger and distress by doctors and fellow cancer patients and survivors, Ehrenreich explores the insistence upon optimism as a cultural and national trait, discovering its "symbiotic relationship with American capitalism" and how poverty, obesity, unemployment and relationship problems are being marketed as obstacles that can be overcome with the right (read: positive) mindset. Building on Max Weber's insights into the relationship between Calvinism and capitalism, Ehrenreich sees the dark roots of positive thinking emerging from 19th-century religious movements. Mary Baker Eddy, William James and Norman Vincent Peale paved the path for today's secular $9.6 billion self-improvement industry and positive psychology institutes. The author concludes by suggesting that the bungled invasion of Iraq and current economic mess may be intricately tied to this "reckless" national penchant for self-delusion and a lack of anxious vigilance, necessary to societal survival. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Optimism -- United States.
Happiness -- United States.
Self-confidence.
Success in business -- United States.
Publisher New York :Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Co.,2009.
Edition 1st ed.
Language English
Description 235 pages ; 22 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages [207]-223) and index.
ISBN 9780805087499
0805087494
Other Classic View