Positive psychology: Is there too much of a push?

  • La Torre M
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Discusses positive psychology, an approach, introduced by Seligman in the late 1990s, that looks at strengths and virtues in the individual rather than at disease and pathology for the purpose of working toward interventions that can help people become happier. By cultivating these positive emotions it is believed that the individual will become stronger emotionally and more well-balanced psychologically. By focusing on positive strengths primarily, it is hoped that negative thought patterns can be changed. But, this push for the positive attitude may have hidden negative consequences. When the concept of the positive implies strengths that somehow are more valuable and productive than negative emotions, two separate categories emerge rather than an integrated whole (Joseph, 2006). Furthermore, the dynamic complexity of the individual is ignored in this two-sided approach (Chang & Norem, 2002). When viewing the individual as a whole, human functioning needs to be seen on a continuum with negative and positive experiences affecting each other rather than existing apart. In addition, not all negative experiences and emotions are necessarily bad and depleting. These issues are briefly considered from a clinical perspective. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)

Author-supplied keywords

  • Psychiatry
  • clinical consequences
  • positive attitude
  • positive psychology
  • psychotherapy

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  • Mary Ann La Torre

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