Barbara Ehrenreich, the renowned political activist, journalist, and author of the bestselling expose Nickel and Dimed, visits the RSA to explore the tyranny of positive thinking and its role in any number of our current social and political ailments.
Is there something wrong with a society that tells us we can have what we want if only we focus hard enough, adopt a relentlessly positive outlook, and really, really hope for it? What kind of example does the plethora of self-help books and motivational speakers set in a practical world of markets, job losses and random, unpredictable events? Does our self-analysing, "think positive" therapeutic culture prevent us from approaching problems by banding together in a practical and efficient way? Can change in the world really be brought about by such an individualistic and self-directed approach?
In highlighting the distinction between thinking positively and taking positive action for change, Ehrenreich urges a move away from an inward-looking, apathetic society, and toward a more pro-active and realistic one.
Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of fourteen books, including the bestselling Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch. She lives in Virginia, USA.
Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed, argues that a positive outlook has no effect on fighting cancer. Reflecting on her experience with breast cancer, she says she felt like "I had two diseases: one was the cancer and the other was my bad attitude."