The Positive Power of Negative Thinking: Using Defensive Pessimism to Harness Anxiety and Perform at Your Peak
How often are we urged to "look on the bright side"? From Norman Vincent Peale to the ubiquitous smiley face, optimism has become an essential part of American society. In this long-overdue book, psychologist Julie Norem offers convincing evidence that, for many people, positive thinking is an ineffective strategy--and often an obstacle--for successfully coping with the anxieties and pressures of modern life. Drawing on her own research and many vivid case histories, Norem provides evidence of the powerful benefits of "defensive pessimism," which has helped millions to manage anxiety and perform their best work.
Helpful New Approach to Individual Differences
By A Customer - May 30, 2002
The psychologist who wrote this book developed and validated a new measure of individual differences in personality: The Defensive Pessimism Questionnaire. The key is the different strategies that individuals use to manage or harness anxiety, moods, and motivations (adaptively or not). The theme is "No one size fits all people." Are you a defensive pessimist, a hopeless pessimist, a self-handicapper, a strategic optimist, or an unrealistic optimist? How do these different types of people get along at work, in love, as family and friends, or at play? Drawing on original psychological research conducted 1985-2001, Professor Norem helps us answer these questions about personality and individual differences. I really liked the way the concluding chapter talks about prospects for change and growth, with a focus on tolerant understanding of self and others, and on optimal psychological health for different individuals. For people like me who value diversity and growth,... read more
A Book About The Other Half
By A Customer - January 14, 2003
What could be more All American than "the power of positive thinking" or "positive mental attitude"? Norman Vincent Peale, Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill sold millions of books in the twentieth century, and inspirational self-help books about happiness are a big trend today. So it may surprise many people that Dr. Martin Seligman, author of Authentic Happiness, is just quoted in Time magazine saying that about half of us have the genetic predisposition that gives the pleasant state of simply feeling happy, and the other half of us do not. That other half has the tendency to experience anxiety, worry, and negativity more often, and perhaps more easily, than pleasantly happy feelings. A similar point is made by Dr. Lykken in his book about happiness. This research makes sense to me, in that it seems a sensible scientific generalization that also fits with my own life experiences with a variety of people. So my reading of Dr. Norem's book "The Positive Power of... read more
Nuanced look at different coping strategies
By Bukkene Bruse - March 2, 2003
While billed as a "contrarian" view, Norem's book is really a more nuanced look at what constitutes pessimism, optimism and the difference between them and hope. Consequently, she identifies highly functional people who are none the less pessimistic. These individuals deal with their preexisting anxiety by using the strategy of "defensive pessimism." Norem discusses in detail the advantages and disadvantages of this strategy, but shows how those people predisposed to handling their anxiety via defensive pessimism can be harmed by being optimistic. Norem spends a good deal of time making the important distinction between the defensive pessimist and other forms of pessimism that are truly debilitating."The Positive Power of Negative Thinking" is not a 12-step program. Instead, it is a highly accessible discussion of personality types and strategies for dealing with the anxiety that modern society brings.