Seligman in historygreenspun.com : LUSENET : History & Theory of Psychology : One Thread
Where does Marty Seligman fit in the history of psychology?(If you were currently in the year 2025.) How do you see positive psychology fitting in that history?
-- Kat Snow (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 27, 2002
I'd categorize it as one of many such movements, and fairly insignificant in the long run. There have been many "positive psychologies" over the centuries. Consider the "fruits of the spirit" in the Bible, the "Christian virtues" of early Christianity-- and related systems in other world religions; the positive thinking of Mary Baker Eddy, Norman Vincent Peale, etc. or the self-hypnotism of Emile Coue. You might consult Donald B. Meyer, The Positive Thinkers: A Study of the American Quest for Health, Wealth, and Personal Power from Mary Baker Eddy to Norman Vincent Peale (Doubleday, 1965--there is also a second edition published in 1985). Another fasciating take on the subject is found in William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902)--in the chapter on Healthy-Mindedness (in contrast to the Sick Soul). James provides his own history and critique of the nineteenth-century positive thinkers. For a humorous critique, pick up a copy of Barbara Held's Stop Smiling, Start Kvetching.
You'll also find a short history of positive thinking at http://mb-soft.com/believe/txn/positive.htm
-- Hendrika Vande Kemp (email@example.com), April 27, 2002.
It is always dangerous to make predictions about what future generations will think about our own time, becaue we have little idea what future generations will be like. They may be "wiser" (in our terms) than us, or they may be much more foolish (again, by our lights). Having said that, I would be surprised if in hindsight, "positive psychology" is seen as having been much more than a passing fad, devloped by (a small part of) a generation of people who felt they lived in particularly troubled times.
-- Christopher Green (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 27, 2002.