|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
On sale: October 13, 2009
A must read for every American who has ever been asked to think of his
layoff, cancer, or foreclosure as an “opportunity”
“Ehrenreich convinced me completely I hesitate to say anything so positive as that this book will change the way you see absolutely everything; but it just might.”
HOW THE RELENTLESS PROMOTION
OF POSITIVE THINKING
HAS UNDERMINED AMERICA
“Bright, incisive, provocative thinking from a top-notch nonfiction writer.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“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.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“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.”
—Booklist, starred review
“Unless you keep on saying that you believe in fairies, Tinkerbell will check out, and what’s more, her sad demise will be your fault! Barbara Ehrenreich scores again for the independent-minded in resisting this drool and all those who wallow in it.”
—Christopher Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
“Barbara Ehrenreich has put the menace of positive thinking under the microscope. Anyone who's ever been told to brighten up needs to read this book.”
—Thomas Frank, author of The Wrecking Crew and What's the Matter with Kansas?
“Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weil: please read this relentlessly sensible book. It’s never too late to begin thinking clearly.”
—Frederick Crews, author of Follies of the Wise: Dissenting Essays
“Barbara Ehrenreich’s skeptical common sense is just what we need to penetrate the cloying fog that passes for happiness in America.”
—Alan Wolfe, author of The Future of Liberalism
“In this hilarious and devastating critique, Barbara Ehrenreich applies some much needed negativity to the zillion-dollar business of positive thinking. This is truly a text for the times.”
—Katha Pollitt, author of The Mind-Body Problem: Poems
“This is a mind-opening read.”
—Michael Shermer, author of Why People Believe Weird Things
“Once again, Barbara Ehrenreich has written an invaluable and timely book, offering a brilliant analysis of the causes and dimensions of our current cultural and economic crises.”
—Thomas Bender, author of A Nation Among Nations: America’s Place in World History
Americans are an upbeat and optimistic people. We smile and greet each other on the street and perpetuate the image of a gregarious and positive nation to the world. We all want to embrace this positive spirit—cheerfulness and good humor—especially in times like these: with unemployment on the rise, and foreclosures forcing thousands of Americans out of their homes, the need and desire for good news is undeniable. But America has embarked on an unwholesome love affair with Positive Thinking—meaning the belief system that refuses to consider the problems at hand; a conviction that by merely thinking positively and having a positive attitude, you can get the things that you want; that by focusing on the good, the bad will cease to exist. Avoiding reality, as recent history has shown, can be disastrous.
In a brilliant and savagely funny attack on the perils of Positive Thinking, BRIGHT-SIDED: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company; on sale: October 13, 2009), Barbara Ehrenreich reveals how this insidious school of thought has infiltrated every part of American culture and exposes the downside of always and only seeing the bright side.
To be clear, Ehrenreich has no problem with joy, happiness, or a sunny personality, her problem is with the “inescapable pseudoscientific flapdoodle” of:
- life coaches who take your money in exchange for affirmations
- preachers who tell you that God wants you to have a car, house or boat you can’t afford
- the idea that mere concentrated desire for an object or outcome will bring you the wealth or happiness of your dreams
Here are some of the myths Ehrenreich exposes and truths she reveals:
- the pseudoscientific link between positive attitude and healing
- how the relentless push for patients to maintain a positive attitude is often psychologically devastating
- the shocking links between prosperity preachers like Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, and Creflo Dollar and the mortgage crisis
- the refusal of the business community to consider negative outcomes—like mortgage defaults—and the groundless optimism of CEOs have replaced risk analysis as the basis for company decisions
Ehrenreich brilliantly sums up our need to embrace realism—or what psychologist Julie Norem calls “defensive pessimism”—from the battlefield to the bedroom:
- A chief of state does not want to hear a general in the field say that he “hopes” to win tomorrow’s battle or that he’s “visualizing victory.”
- You may try to project a thoroughly “positive” outlook in order to attract a potential boyfriend, but you are also advised to Google him.
- Parents might want to be “positive” by advertising a trip to the pediatrician as an opportunity to play with the cool toys in the waiting room rather than an occasion for a painful shot, but they dare not risk assuming that the sudden quiet from the toddlers’ room means they are studying Baby Einstein.
BRIGHT-SIDED is Ehrenreich at the top of her myth-busting game. In this bold, incisive, and often funny attack on the myriad ways that Positive Thinking has been used to obscure the truth, Ehrenreich reveals how damaging that has been to the American well-being. And to those millions of individual Americans who have been sold a bill of goods in the name of Positive Thinking, this book will be a lasting and welcome gift.
About the Author
Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of sixteen previous books, including the New York Times bestseller, Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch. A frequent contributor to Harper’s and The Nation, she has been a columnist at The New York Times and Time magazine. She lives in Virginia.
How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America
by Barbara Ehrenreich
Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company
October 13, 2009
240 pages * $23.00 * ISBN: 978-0-8050-8749-9