Positive Attitude Prattle

Posted in Book Reports, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on May 25, 2013

Somewhere along the line, the boss decides you have a “negative attitude”. From that point on, you are not allowed to complain. It is almost as if it were a gimmick to keep you in line.

A lady named Barbara Ehrenreich agrees that there is entirely too much positive attitude required of people. She wrote a book, Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. In one interview, she says “And again, you know, don’t worry about the world. Don’t ask the question about where the cancer comes from. Don’t ask why so many people are not employed, even in good times in our country. And it was the same sort of thing. And that’s when I began to think hey, this kind of operates as a way of quelling discontent, quelling dissent, you know, when you can’t say I’m mad about -whatever. You just have to swallow it and smile.”

Ms. Ehrenreich was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000. She found herself in a pink tsunami of cheerfulness. The pink teddy bears did not do anything for her spirits. The whole culture of happy talk, about a life threatening illness. grossed her out.

At one point, she was given a tote bag. In it were some crayons. I said, “This is really nice, but what’s with the crayons?” And this woman said to me, “Well, that’s in case you want to write down any of your thoughts.” And I said, “I’m a writer. I don’t use crayons.”

The promotional interviews quoted here were conducted in 2009. This was before the Susan G. Komen foundation hired Karen Handel. During the Planned Parenthood meltdown, some unflattering things came out about the SGK foundation. It probably did not help Ms. Ehrenreich’s attitude.

So the book happened. PG has not read it, but has seen a few reviews and interviews. The New York Times has a great review. It says “America’s can-do optimism has hardened into a suffocating culture of positivity that bears little relation to genuine hope or happiness.”

One interview has a stomach churning comment. It should be noted that this is the lady talking, and that there is no confirmation of this. “Yeah. And here’s something that really horrified me that I learned recently and put in the book, is that some breast cancer support groups expel people who go into metastasis and who are clearly going to die. You can’t be in the group because just your presence might bring other people down.” (A google search of the phrase “breast cancer support groups expel people who go into metastasis ” shows little support for this story. Two front page results involve Barbara Ehrenreich interviews. Skepticism should not be limited to positive motivation.)

Pictures are from The Library of Congress.

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