Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Positive thinking is dangerous

Positive thinking is a philosophy of life or a self help method which has it's origin in the early twentieth century but it became extremely popular in the nineteen eighties and it is still very popular. The idea is that we should get rid of negative, dark thoughts and replace them with positive and optimistic ones. We should change our minds.

The big pharmaceutical companies had some new promising antidepressant pills to put out on the market in the beginning of the eighties. Unhappiness, frustration and anxiety were, as they saw it, medical disorders that could be cured with medication. A lot of people suffered from unhappiness, sorrow, anger and frustration. The market was immense.

Psychotherapy wasn’t very successful in those days. People could spend years in therapy without feeling better. So many psychotherapists needed a new approach and became positive thinking gurus.

Positive thinking was, and still is, a very good business for the pharmaceutical companies, the therapists, the authors of self help books and the publishing houses.

The establishment was in hot water after the Vietnam war. They had to do something. And they did. On a grand scale. They embraced the positive thinking philosophy and filled the newspapers, magazines and TV shows with the optimistic message: if you are a looser it's your own fault. Stop complaining about injustices, war and environmental pollution. Do something. Become something great. Women don’t want to marry losers. They want dollars, big cars and swimming pools. And big Hollywood smiles.

Positive thinking is a very dangerous philosophy. You have to learn self-hypnosis and how to reprogram your unconscious mind. The crucial point is what kind of stuff you program your subconscious mind with. Is it the establishments ideas of success? Sales results? The meaning with life is to get rich, no matter how. Success is measured in dollars.

Since the nineteen sixties the clinical depressions have increased with over a thousand percent. (See Martin Seligman’s book Authentic happiness) The sub clinical depressions have of course also increased but I don’t have any figures. We feel like shit. We are getting more and more depressed. We sink deeper and deeper in the mire. Nothing seems to be of any help. Sometimes depression is called “the common cold of the mind”, everybody suffer from it from time to time, but what if common colds had increased with a thousand percent in 50 years, wouldn’t you have wondered what was going on?

So, are we doomed? Is a change to something positive impossible? If change is possible how does it come about? Is it a gradual and slow process or is it instant? Is it something we can do to make it happen? Is it something we have to realize? Do we need to practice more meditation? Do we need to pray?