Friday, July 10, 2009
Yes, I Suck: Self-Help Through Negative Thinking
In the past 50 years, people with mental problems have spent untold millions of hours in therapists' offices, and millions more reading self-help books, trying to turn negative thoughts like "I never do anything right" into positive ones like "I can succeed." For many people — including well-educated, highly trained therapists, for whom "cognitive restructuring" is a central goal — the very definition of psychotherapy is the process of changing self-defeating attitudes into constructive ones.
But was Norman Vincent Peale right? Is there power in positive thinking? A study just published in the journal Psychological Science says trying to get people to think more positively can actually have the opposite effect: it can simply highlight how unhappy they are.