I interviewed Barbara on a snowy evening in Bristol last month before she appeared at the Festival of Ideas to explore her thesis that the relentless promotion of positive thinking is undermining America and its effects are being felt all round the world.
If you’re unconvinced that positive thinking is creeping into more and more areas of life, here are some facts with which I began my article:
“George W Bush was head football cheerleader in his senior year at prep school. The most popular course offered by Harvard University in 2006 was positive psychology. The total US market for “self-improvement products” in 2005 was estimated at $9.6bn. Last month, during the Haitian earthquake, the top international story on happynews.com – which publishes only good news – was “Prince William attracts crowd in New Zealand”. There are at least four different species of breast cancer awareness teddy bears. Sales of the self-help book The Secret (2006) (“the secret gives you anything you want: happiness, health and wealth”) by former Melbourne TV producer Rhonda Byrne exceed 7 million.”
Listen to the podcast by clicking here to make up your own mind whether there is something here to be worried about.