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Book Review: Barbara Ehrenreich's "Bright-Sided"

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Louisiana1976 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-30-09 08:07 PM
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Book Review: Barbara Ehrenreich's "Bright-Sided"
snip

Happy talk is killing us. Faux cheerfulness is blinding us. Optimism is making us delusional. And America is knee-deep in the happy happy joy joy, always looking on the bright side of life schtick, has been from the 19th century on, and Barbara Ehrenreich is, to put it mildly, so over it.

What really pushed her over the edge was a bout of breast cancer that exposed her to the modern American abyss of positive thinking. She recoiled from the resolute cheerfulness of the breast cancer community, so determinedly upbeat that patients end up buying into the guilt trip that any depressed thoughts they might harbor about their illness caused the affliction in the first place. Or the relapse. Or the bad reaction to chemo.

This was the seed of Bright-Sided, which looks at the dark side of the positive-thinking movement, from its origins to The Secret, from its mystical leanings to its manipulation in the modern workplace that aims to make employees compliant with low pay and increasing workloads.

It's a book about happy happy that will piss you off. In a good way.

snip

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/11/29/807469/-Bo...
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HereSince1628 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-30-09 08:09 PM
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1. It's definitely a book about happy happy that will piss u off
I read it Saturday.

If half of what it says is true, I'd still be pissed off.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-30-09 08:32 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. The last thing a puking chemo patient needs
is some perky, cheerful young thing chirping about how a positive mental attitude will help him get through anything.

I'm surprised more chirpy types aren't assaulted on chemo units but I guess the patients are just too damn sick to get up the ambition.

Too often, the command to think positively sounds a lot like blaming the victim if the disease worsens, they didn't think positively enough/pray hard enough/believe purely enough, it's all their fault.

I hung out with the nurses who let them wallow when they felt disgusted and told dirty jokes when they felt sociable. Most of all, we agreed with them that cancer sucks, the treatment sucks, and the whole world sucks sometimes. We were also more liberal with the comfort medications.

Being validated is a lot more helpful than being chirped at.
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HereSince1628 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-30-09 08:48 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. That's a part of the book and maybe the least bizarre
But happy happy international corporations, making decisions based on the notion that happy thoughts bring about corporate prosperity, that's makes me look, well, sane!
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-30-09 09:07 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Yeah, management tried to push the happy chirpy stuff
when they developed the customer satisfaction model and tried to apply it to in hospital health care. It worked about as well as applying the profit motive to health care.
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pitohui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-30-09 08:25 PM
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2. good for her
i got tired of the positive thinking bullshit a long time ago

apparently if you got sick any time in the 1980s it was all your fault for thinking negative thoughts, fuck that noise, i was born w. a disease, was i thinking negative thoughts in the fucking womb???
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Go2Peace Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-30-09 10:53 PM
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6. Next she should write a book about using humor to hide aggression
which our society has also mastered.
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lostnfound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-01-09 12:17 AM
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7. A beautiful movie called "My Sister's Keeper" has a scene in it
where the teenage girl is sitting in a hospital bed with her immediate family but also with her clueless extended family, who are chattering and advising her that she simply needs to visualize her body attacking the cancer cells etc. and stay positive. It was poignant and painful.
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raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-01-09 11:15 AM
Response to Original message
8. I just finished that book, and I recommend it. It's important to distinguish
between being optimistic and magical thinking. Ehrenreich talks about this toward the end of the book.


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Delphinus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-13-09 07:15 AM
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9. I'm on a wait list
at the library for this book. Don't know if it will ever get to me - I signed up for it right away and I'm still number 15!
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Sequoia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-15-09 03:50 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Rats! I'm at 111 which means I'll see it in the spring if I'm lucky.
Heck, our whole library system is closing down for 10 whole days starting Xmas eve. I sure hope I get all the books I've put on hold. I get weary of this happy, happy, joy, joy business sometimes. (However, I still like your song Ren & Stimpy!. I saw a job posting today that said: "only happy people need apply!"
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