The dark side of positive psychology

The Spanish psychologist wrote for him a valuable critique of positive psychology, one of the most popular psychological movements of recent decades:

, one of the most media and powerful psychologists of recent decades, says that one day back in the late nineties, when he was president of the (APA, that group of American psychologists that guides our lives), he experienced an epiphany when his daughter five years old called him grumpy. It was then that he thought that psychology focused too much on the study of pathology and not on virtue. A change of direction was necessary. It was necessary to study the strengths of human beings, their ability to adapt and the benefits of happiness.

It seems like a resource for an experienced lecturer rather than the germ of a thriving current such as positive psychology. It is still paradoxical that it is a five-year-old girl who modifies the academic’s approach, and not the weight of the already established humanist current or the powerful postmodern thought. Aside from the anecdote, Seligman aims for a paradigm shift by integrating elements from other approaches, a pretty packaging and a lot of Coca Cola.

The concept of happiness has transcended the field of health and has flooded the social, economic and even political field. It is difficult to discern whether Seligman and his positive acolytes joined a bandwagon that was already underway or if they were the seed of a global phenomenon. They are probably processes that feed off each other.

Its repercussions in the educational field:

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Also in the educational field, the idea that the important thing is for children to develop positive emotions in their preparation to be happy is gaining strength. Nothing to object, a priori it sounds fantastic. However, excessive avoidance of so-called negative emotions may be favoring the creation of small hedonistic despots with low tolerance for frustration.

Enthusiasts of the positive movement tend to construct the emotional world in dichotomous terms, that is, positive and negative or good and bad. They also tend to magnify the power of the so-called positive emotion, giving it the capacity for change, for love or the healing of diseases.


Thanks for sharing the note.