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Smile or die: The dark side of positive thinking

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by Woolie, Feb 25, 2016.

  1. Woolie

    Woolie Senior Member

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    I just discovered this, a very short talk by Barbara Ehernrich about the dangers of too much positive thinking. Not new, but there are lots of themes that are relevant to MECFS and the way we are treated. Its only ten minutes long.



    I hear that Coyne references her work a lot (he's also a staunch critic of the positive Psychology movement).

    For those of you who don't know the RSA animate series, they're really easy to watch. This guy draws witty images on a white board that illustrate what the speaker is saying.
     
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  2. TiredSam

    TiredSam The wise nematode hibernates

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    Brilliant. I bought the book to read about positive thinking in the medical arena, and was surprised to find she covered many more aspects of it. The economic aspects and the way employees were brainwashed before being fired was one of my favourite chapters. Also the chapter on the rise of superchurches in the last decade (God wants to "prosper" you, just ask him) was an eye-opener.
     
  3. Woolie

    Woolie Senior Member

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    Sounds interesting @TiredSam, did you see John Oliver take the p**s our of those churches? very funny!

    Lots of bits relevant to us. Like how we are supposed to be able to think our way out of illness by convincing ourselves its not real. And the idea that we're somehow flawed if we're really upset about the crap life has landed on us - and just not ready (or well enough) to punch the sky. And the positive Psyc movement places problems squarely back on the shoulders of those of us who don't have the "right attitude".
     
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  4. sarah darwins

    sarah darwins I told you I was ill

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    That’s just brilliant, and very thought-provoking. She’s right: this “mandatory optimism” is everywhere. It made me think of the experience of ‘jobseekers’ in the UK (that rebranding itself is pure mandatory optimism), who are effectively banned from negativity on pain of benefit withdrawal.

    And it’s impossible to watch this without thinking of the BPS movement — “you change the physical world with your thoughts”, and the vague allusions to quantum theory as a justification for irrational ‘science’. Their insistence that ill people aren’t ‘really’ ill is itself a vast delusion, a denial of a straightforward reality.

    I especially liked her conclusion, though, suggesting that while delusions about your individual capacity to reshape reality are exactly that — delusional — all the same … “We do have power. We have collective power which we could use. It would end a great deal of collective suffering in the world.” Kind of what we’re trying to do here, isn’t it.
     
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  5. TiredSam

    TiredSam The wise nematode hibernates

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    Always watch John Oliver. Praise be upon him :angel:
     
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  6. sarah darwins

    sarah darwins I told you I was ill

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    "Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption" — that was absolutely wonderful. Thanks for the reminder :)
     
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  7. Sean

    Sean Senior Member

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    Barbara Ehernrich is good value, heard her talk before, down to earth, no nonsense. :thumbsup:
     
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  8. Roy S

    Roy S former DC ME/CFS lobbyist

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    And in the theater of the WTF, from last year --
     
     
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  9. Luther Blissett

    Luther Blissett Senior Member

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    :lol::lol::lol:

    My Irony meter. Haz exploded. I'm guessing he didn't know they are friends. Such in depth research before offering advice embiggens us all.

    Thanks Roy, you made me emit a startling snorting sound rarely heard in these parts. (also, snot :whistle:)
     
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  10. JaimeS

    JaimeS Senior Member

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    Ugh, if you click on Ricky Gervais's twitter account that Coyne cites, good god. The comments. "Personally, I think cancer is karmic."

    Please die in a fire.

    -J
     
  11. Woolie

    Woolie Senior Member

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    Like x 100, @sarah darwins! :thumbsup:
     
  12. JaimeS

    JaimeS Senior Member

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    If you're wondering what we're talking about regarding Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption...

     
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  13. jimells

    jimells Senior Member

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    It always seemed to me that "positive thinking" isn't for the benefit of patients but rather for the benefit of everyone else.

    I get the impression that many people never consider that everyone gets sick and die, if they live long enough. This seems strange to me. As a kid I went to a number of funerals, including that of my beloved grandmother. Don't kids go to funerals any more?
     
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  14. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman Senior Member

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    Yes, but they're for other people!

    I agree completely. When many of us were growing up we spent a lot more time with our elders. For example we only had 1 TV so I watched with my parents and we talked about what we'd seen whether it was drama or the news. Many of the books in the house were collectively owned. So someone would comment and you'd end up discussing it. Nowadays, kids don't get that and they are disadvantaged because of it. Basically, you can really only learn about people and emotions and interaction from actual people.
     
  15. Luther Blissett

    Luther Blissett Senior Member

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    In a society that values positive thinking, and the official philosophy that if you dream big and try hard you will be a success, people are propagandised against thinking about how much luck has to do with things?

    I can't say that I was really prepared for the notion that I personally would die until I got very ill with a mystery illness in my early to late 20's. I was aware that other people died, but had not considered that I could die, and especially at such a young age. I was somehow special.

    I'm not even sure why I thought this way.

    I want to get around to reading 'The Denial of Death' by Ernest Becker, but it includes Freud,and a lot of psycho-analysis so I keep putting it off.
     
  16. JAH

    JAH Senior Member

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    For those who can read, you might enjoy this funny and touching book by the late, great David Rakoff, Half Empty.

    http://www.amazon.com/Half-Empty-Da...8&qid=1456453359&sr=1-6&keywords=david rakoff

    His theme is the positive power of negative thinking. Cancer got him, ironically because of decades old radiation treatment for an earlier cancer...though I'm sure someone told him his "fighting spirit" would save him.
     
  17. JaimeS

    JaimeS Senior Member

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    Yup. "Stop bothering us with your problems". But I can sympathize. I don't want to hear about everyone else's problems, either.

    However, if hearing about people's medical problems is your job...

    Developmental psych. Most teens think dying is for other people.

    -J
     
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  18. Sean

    Sean Senior Member

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    Somebody put it like this: We all know we are going to die, we just never think it is going to be today.
     
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  19. Woolie

    Woolie Senior Member

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    "There is only one god, and His name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: 'not today'."

    Okay, maybe I stole that from someone else... :rolleyes:
     
  20. Little Bluestem

    Little Bluestem All Good Things Must Come to an End

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    Wouldn't it be more karmic if he died of cancer?
     
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