The Hope Circuit: Politics & Power Dynamics of Academia

the hope circuit book cover

The Hope Circuit (2018) is an autobiography of Seligman’s life and work. It explains how psychology was revolutionized during Seligman’s long career, and how Seligman contributed to those sweeping changes.
It also indirectly teaches a lot about the power dynamics of science, academia, and social-status seeking.

Bullet Summary

  • Psychology was too focused on curing diseases and “not getting it wrong”, and positive psychology changed that
  • Behaviorism was a very limiting approach to understand people and psychology, and it’s a good thing that we moved past it
  • Doing good and helpful science does not necessarily mean you will get funding and awards

Summary

About the Author: Martin Seligman is an American psychologist and researcher. He is a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Seligman has been the president of the American Psychological Association (APA), and he is one of the founders and main proponents of “Positive Psychology”. He is also the author of “Flourish“, “Authentic Happiness“, and “Learned Optimism“.

1. Psychology wrong premise: not getting it wrong getting it right

Psychology started with the premise that not getting it wrong meant getting it right.
If psychology could eliminate all the ills of the world, human life would be at its best. But the absence of ill-being does not equal the presence of well-being.

Psychology could be about the presence of happiness, not merely the absence of happiness.

1.2. Transformation Pillars During Seligman’s Lifetime

Seligman says that psychology went through huge transformations during his lifetime, and that he led the transformation in more than one instance.

The four big steps of transformation are:

  1. Abandoning behaviorism to embrace cognition and consciousness
  2. Realizing that evolution and the brain constrain what we can learn
  3. Ended the fixation of curing only what’s wrong to include building what’s right and positive
  4. Discovered that we are driven into the future rather driven by the past

These changes together make the psychology of hope.

2. Psychology Before Seligman

Part of “The Hope Circuit” is dedicated to the “history of psychology”.

Here are the main parts:

2.2. Freudian VS Behaviorists: many similarities in their shortcomings

Says Seligman:

WHEN I FIRST encountered psychology, more than thirty years before my stint as APA president, two warring factions in the field—the behaviorists and the Freudians—were at a standoff. For all their differences, they shared many of the same dogmas. Both focused on misery. Neither took evolution seriously. Both believed that the past, especially childhood trauma, frog-marches us into the future. Both considered thinking and consciousness mere froth. They also shared many of the same blind spots: happiness, virtue, free will, meaning, creativity, and success. In short, they both missed everything that makes life worth living.

2.3. Behaviorists Are All About Internal Validity

Says Seligman:

In direct contrast, the behaviorists are the direct descendants of what I call “atomism.” (…) The thesis that real understanding comes only by working from the ground up.
We can gain clarity about real-world issues only if we first discover and analyze the simple building blocks of the complex real world and then reassemble them to reconstruct reality. 
The model is the periodic table of the elements.

Behaviorism had the allure of hard science.
Says Seligman:

Behaviorism was elegant. It sought to rid psychology of the quicksand of mental stuff and to place measurable behavior as the concrete footing that real science requires. A rat turning left or right in a maze was more measurable and more replicable than the sensation of slimy as composed of the sensation of warm plus that of wet. John Broadus Watson ignited the revolution in 1913 at Columbia University. Psychology, he thought, should be “a purely objective experimental branch of natural science,” aiming not to understand the fluff of the mind but to predict and control behavior. Introspection was a muddle, and behavior was the right unit for scientific analysis.

The behaviorist thought that the mind was outside of science:

Behavior could be known with certainty, but mind could not, so mind was outside science.

And within two decaeds, says Seligman, behaviorism had swept away introspection entirely. 
The science of mind had transformed into the science of behavior, and “learning theory” now sat on the throne -together with the behaviorists taking the best professorships in the country-.

2.4. Behaviorists Blind Spots

Says Seligman:

These militant denials of cognition led to blind spots: that consciousness is not causal, that imagination has no role, and that free will is an illusion.

Today, thanks to the work of Seligman and others, we know that behaviorists were on the wrong track.
Says Seligman:

  • Conscious thoughts powerfully influence emotions. Thoughts of helplessness produce passivity. Thoughts of a better future produce hope. A science of behavior without the mind is hopelessly insufficient.
    We continually imagine different futures, we evaluate them, and we choose among them. Try as we might, we cannot shake off free will. A science that is only about the past (memory) and the present (perception) without an account of future-mindedness is hopelessly insufficient.
  • A science that is only about negative emotions is hopelessly insufficient.

2.5. Seligman’s Personal Beef With Behaviorists

Across the whole book, it’s pretty evident that Seligman had sometimes a personal issue with some exponents of Behaviorism.

He says:

“So you think, Marty, that animals have a rich mental life?” Dave asked, as if mockery should end the argument. (…) But these beliefs were so out of keeping with behaviorism that one either shut up or one endured mockery. I didn’t shut up, and neither did Steve.
All of this made us outcasts on our home turf by putting us squarely in the camp of what would soon be called “cognitive” psychology.

3. Internal VS External Validity

Says Seligman:

In psychology, as in many disciplines, the degree of rigor and the importance of a problem are all too often reciprocal.
This dilemma goes under the name “internal versus external validity,” or, without the jargon, “rigor versus reality.” The more the method captures the real-world issue (external validity), the less rigor (internal validity) it has. Conversely the more rigor the method has, the more poorly it captures the real world.

And further:

This is the “white rats and college sophomore” issue: researchers can control and measure what rats and sophomores do in the laboratory, but any finding’s application to real human problems is always a strain. Are stomach ulcers in the rat exposed to unpredictable electric shocks really the same thing as duodenal ulcers in a woman who has lost her job?

External validity should be of higher importance in academia, says Seligman:

Hundreds of professors of psychology make their livings teaching “scientific” method and statistics, the trappings of internal validity, but no one makes a living teaching about external validity.
Unfortunately, public doubts about the applicability of basic, rigorous science are often warranted, and this is because the rules of external validity are not clear.

3.2. Freud Was Unscientific (Implies Seligman)

Seligman has already shown in his previous books of not being the greatest admirer of Freud.

In “The Hope Circuit” he says:

Freud was aware of this dilemma (…) It tells us where Freud stood on the importance of external validity over rigor. Freud believed that the possibility of a revolutionary insight could justify going way beyond the evidence.

4. The “Control” Literature: Helplnessness is Only A Tiny Piece

Among the research on control and personal power:

  • Locus of control (Julian Rotter): Julian Rotter, a social psychologist, developed the concept of “locus of control,” with some people being “externals,” believing that the environment or other people shape their lives, and others being “internals,” believing that they themselves shape their own lives
  • Self efficacy (Albert Bandura): An “efficacy expectation” is the belief that you, yourself, can bring about the outcomes you desire, whereas an “outcome expectation” is the belief that the outcome you desire will simply happen. 
  • Appraisal theory (Richard Lazarus): When an event occurs, the organism first assesses the consequences of the event (primary appraisal), then asks if it has the ability to cope with the event and its consequences. This is “secondary appraisal.”

Says Seligman:

So learned helplessness, finding the downside of not having control, was really just one step in a vigorous march emphasizing the benefits of the presence of control. While we self-centeredly thought of our own work as huge, Steve and I were in fact just part of two intertwined developments making their way into mainstream psychology: the new acceptance of cognition and the new dimension of control. (…) By the turn of the millennium, both control and cognition were firmly entrenched in mainstream psychology.

5. Tips for Writing Good Papers

Says Seligman:

Most readers are busy. I sure am. Many readers just scan. I know I do. Help the scanners by using short sentences and plain words. The big word and the long sentence must increase accuracy a lot to make up for impeded reading. And don’t overwrite. Omit extra words and information that the reader already knows. Overwriting slows the reader way down and does not increase accuracy much at all.

However, also notices Seligman, a more complicated style can be “reader unfriendly”, but “reviewer friendly”, and help have your paper published.

6. American Psychology Association (APA) Power Dynamics

Says Seligman:

For the last fifty years, APA has had three overlapping constituencies. The original and most venerable comprised the scientists. In the 1970s, the independent therapists overtook the scientists in numbers, and governance fell to them in the coup d’état staged by the self-named “dirty dozen.” My presidency in 1998 marked a brief respite and some sharing of power between the practitioners and the scientists.
But there has always been a third, less conspicuous constituency: the social activists.

Seligman says that the social activists attacked him and APA of collusion with the Bush administration to orchestrate a coup d’eta and move APA on the far-left.
Seligman’s own accusation of contributing to the CIA torture program was also part of the anti-war and social activist machinations.

The investigation that followed, from Seligman’s point of view, was biased towards the social activist, and was used to launch their power takeover of APA.

I am not sure about this, but I can say that Seligman did come across as very pro-US militarism from the way he writes.

He says for example that: “when in doubt, we should err on the side of helping our nation”.
I think that when in doubt you should look for more information, and probably refrain from taking action.

7. Faculties Power Dynamics: Cornell Example

Says Seligman:

Cornell contrasted sharply with Michigan. Its homey department had only about twenty-five faculty members, completely dominated by one faction, the perception psychologists led by husband and wife team Jimmy and Jackie (Eleanor J.) Gibson.
Jimmy was the brains and Jackie the enforcer.
The Gibsons were the opposite of behaviorists in ideology, but they were just as cultish, tyrannical, and narrow-minded. 

8. Grants Power Dynamics: Blocking Funds

Seligman describes Bill Morse as an acolyte of B. F. Skinner.

As he was pitching his research that went against everything in Skinner doctrine of behaviorism, Morse scowled at Seligman.

Then, when the jury had to decide whether or not to grant Seligman a research purse, he says:

When the group reassembled in Washington, I later learned, the four psychiatrists all gave my application a “1.0,” the highest NIMH score, equivalent to an A+. Morse asked the group, “What mark do I have to give Seligman to prevent him from getting any money?” They told him a “5.0,” the almost never-used equivalent of an F.

Then, Seligman uses the opportunity to take a little revenge:

He did, and I now take this opportunity to thank Bill Morse for unintentionally doing me one of the great favors of my life.

9. Funding Power Dynamics: Power Aligning

Seligman says that the DSM definition for “depression” had changed not because it made sense, but to turn into a psychiatric disorder.

The psychiatry guild that ran NIMH wanted the change to capture the funding, and they managed to do so.

My renewal was about identifying depressive attributional style, which, I argued, amplified helplessness: if one interprets failure through the lens of personal (it’s me), permanent (it’s going to last forever), and pervasiveness (it’s going to ruin everything), depression results. The NIMH branch chief for depression fired a warning shot across my bow.
“Your proposal is about the symptoms of depression. What does that have to do with depressive disorder, Marty?” Bob Hirschfeld, a future chair of psychiatry in Galveston, Texas, asked me on the telephone. He was trying to help me stave off a rejection.
(…) “Why don’t you rewrite the proposal to be about the disorder, and by the way perhaps you might enlist and pay some collaborators from your psychiatry department.”

Seligman was forced to rephrase his grant to make it sound like it was psychiatric research and, once he did, his grant was funded.

10. Academia VS Self-Help Power Dynamics

After “Learned Optimism“, Seligman was branded a “self-help author”.

And self-help is usually scoffed at in academia.
Seligman says that books like Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking” were scorned in academia.

This was Seligman’s experience after he became to be known in the general public:

This was a surprise and caused some rethinking. The professors in the humanities led the applause. For them, I discovered, a book, particularly one that emanated from a major New York publisher and then got reviewed in the Times, was the acme of success. In the sciences, a lead article in a specialized journal was the acme of success. My reappraisal was confirmed when no psychologist at Penn said a word to me—not then, not ever—even though the department broke out champagne when my colleague Henry Gleitman published his introductory textbook.

Again though, it transpires how much Martin Seligman craves people’s praise.

Seligman goes on to say that, contrary to most other self-help texts, his self-help was grounded in science and research.
And he says that “Learned Optimism” was the first scientific self-help.

11. Medicine Against Psychologists: Power Dynamics

Seligman cites several studies and pieces of evidence supporting the idea that psychological states such as optimism, or depression affect our physical healthy.

But the simple notion that mental state affects physical states faces lots of headwinds.

He says:

Our journal rejection rate from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation project at the prestigious medical outlets has been close to 80 percent, and I see a double standard in action. Studies that show positive psychological protective factors get rejected out of hand, but those that deny positive protection get accepted and publicized. 

And later on:

Psychologists are unwelcome interlopers in the world of medical science. Medicine is dominated by the belief that psychological factors do not cause medical outcomes or only do so by way of biological processes—even if the psychological factors are known and measured and the biological factors are completely unknown. 

12. Evolutionary Psychology Reframes Everything

Natural selection reframes almost everything, and it has pervaded my thinking about psychology since.

And:

Most importantly, I joined the battle against the “blank slate” brand of psychology that ignores natural selection and insists that while having a brain is nice, that brain is just a means of faithfully transcribing what experience writes.

That battle has by now probably been won, and it’s well encapsulated in Steven Pinker’s book “The Blank Slate“.

Also read:

13. Heuristics For Psychologists

Negative heuristics are:

  • If the theory contains “self-[esteem, efficacy, worth, compassion],” hold on to your wallet.
  • If you need fancy statistics to see a result, think twice.
  • If an article ends with “more research is needed,” be skeptical.
  • If “qualitative study” or “focus group” appears, stop reading.

Positive heuristics are:

  • A good theory makes surprising counterintuitive predictions (e.g., treating depression as prospection gone awry will work better than correcting false beliefs about the past and the present).
  • Begin with an anecdote that distills the idea (e.g., “Sauce béarnaise used to be my favorite sauce”) and only then challenge the reader with the details of experiments and theory.
  • Drill down to the most basic assumption and ask, if it were false, what would follow (e.g., What if early-childhood trauma has only minor effects on adult personality? Then adolescence might be the crucial time that wreaks the tectonic changes in who we will become, and intervening then will do more good than early-childhood interventions).
  • A good piece of science tells the reader that something she thought was false is true, or something she thought was true is false. You will read about a whopper that stands learned helplessness on its head in the next chapter.

14. How to Have Your Articles Published: The Sense of Audience

To get your articles published, try first to get feedback from the people who are well-known names in the field.

Says Seligman:

Writing about creativity offers an example of the importance of audience. Creativity is an overworked topic, and almost everything has been said about it. For an article about creativity to see the light of day, it is a good idea to first send a draft to Dean Simonton, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Teresa Amabile, and Howard Gardner and patiently wait for their comments.

Then, cite those people:

Their work needs to be cited (favorably if possible) and their papers read carefully.

As a general rule, you want to sent the draft out to the gatekeepers:

Dick Solomon had a much better grasp of this principle than I. He always sent his drafts out to the gatekeepers first, and blessed with Harold Schlosberg on one shoulder and Walter Hunter on the other, commenting on each sentence, Dick had a great sense of audience.

Stay within the widely accepted beliefs and dogmas of your field:

Ideas that are a half step ahead of the audience are good “normal” science, and the journals are filled with these. While usually boring to read, they provide the cumulative bricks.
Papers that are two steps ahead of the gatekeepers are rejected as outlandish.
If you wish to succeed in normal science, stay just one step ahead, but do venture an occasional one-and-one-half-step paper to keep your sense of self-respect.

And I think this is exactly why we ended up with a replication crisis. People were just publishing articles just to get them published, not to do actual research.

Replication Crisis: A Defense of Psychology

15. Seligman Against Affirmative Action, & Racial Politics

Says Seligman:

We were instructed to take 40 percent of all black applicants with an SAT average of 400 or better. This was the bottom 25 percent of the entire American pool. (Do you see the problem before you read on?)

Seligman says that was the beginning of the racial politics that were soon to come.

And later on:

What did the black students want? Their demands were nebulous—more black faculty members, more black students, more black scholarships—but one “nonnegotiable” demand stood out: amnesty.

The students won out, to Seligman’s chagrin:

The faculty declined and voted to give the black students whatever they wanted, and most certainly, amnesty.
A minority of the faculty, including me, was scandalized. Relinquishing the freedom to teach what one believes, giving in to violence, allocating scarce resources to the loudest group for academically dubious projects like the Ujamaa Residential College—this was not what a university was about.

Seligman also discusses the impact of the famous paper “How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?” (Jensen, 1969).

The paper discusses the heritability of IQ, as well as the IQ difference between American blacks and whites, which the paper said might be genetic.

He was afraid of discussing anything similar at Cornell, and so he decided to leave.

16. The Positive Psychology Tent

As president of APA, Seligman sought to promote positive psychology, and he wanted to so helping and supporting others with their own agenda:

  • Mike Csikszentmihalyi’s on flow
  • Chris Peterson’s and Neal Mayerson’s on virtue
  • Ed Diener’s on subjective well-being
  • George Vaillant’s on successful aging
  • Kathleen Hall Jamieson’s on positive civic institution
  • Barb Fredrickson’s on positive emotion
  • Jon Haidt’s on awe
  • Sonja Lyubomirsky’s on interventions
  • Laura King’s on meaning.

And, finally:

  • Angela Duckworth, on Grit 

Seligman’s own prior agenda, prevention of mental illness, was only a wee part, of positive psychology.

17. Religion Supplments Science

Towards the end of the book Seligman shares a few personal experiences that changed his mind and opened his eyes towards religion.

Religion and science are opposed but only in the same sense in which my thumb and forefinger are opposed—and between the two, one can grasp everything.”

18. Psychotherapy works with depression, but it doesn’t get funded

Seligman says that simply writing down for a week 3 things that went well and why they went well was as effective in curing depression as drugs were.

But they couldn’t keep the website up and do more research because they couldn’t get the funding.
Says Seligman:

Given these very encouraging data, we applied for a grant from NIMH. It was turned down administratively without even the bother of any reviews. Annoyed, I saw NIMH more and more in the service only of neuroscience and Big Pharma.

The second issue is copyright law.
You could change a few word on a text and a competitor could copy your product, slap it a new name, and market it. 
Instead, you could more easily patent a new drug.

19. Seligman Didn’t Support Guantanamo Torture

Seligman says:

I had made it a practice to try never to get defensive when my science was criticized, since science advances by criticism.
But this criticism was not about my science; it was personal and moral, as well as untrue, and so this will be the only chapter that will feel defensive to my readers.

It wasn’t the only chapter that felt defensive, to be honest. 

And what follows is Seligman denying his support of CIA in devising torture methods.
I believed him, albeit a few questions linger. Like a second meeting of which he had no memory whatsoever of ever happening? He is certain he didn’t talk about detainees and interrogation of detainees, but if he can’t remember the meeting, how can he say he is certain?

More Wisdom

  • You learn control, not helplnessness: you don’t learn helplnessns, with is the default state. Instead, you learn that you can control events
  • Persistence in romance can pay: Seligman’s father wooed his highly attractive mother by sheer persistence. including waiting at her place, even when she was coming home from other dates
  • Skinner was a tyrant? Says Selignam: “Two rival tyrants then reigned over Harvard: B. F. (Fred) Skinner, the star of 1950s behaviorism, and S. S (Smitty) Stevens, the world’s leading mathematical psychophysiologist
  • Trade book is between a scholarly monograph, and a mass market book: “The Social Animal” is the only trade book in psychology
  • CEOs lack fairness, honesty, and modesty: also read “corporate Machiavellianism

And:

  • To get the best recruit, engage their vision, not your vision:

This is how Dick recruited Seligman to work for him:

Unlike Neal Miller, Dick did not talk about himself or his own research program, but he did try to elicit my vision, if any. He did this in a nondirective, bubbly way, chatting about the issues that puzzled him in his laboratory, hoping I would “free associate” creatively from his puzzlement.

  • Persuasion by mocking

Seligman was offered an assistant professorship at Harvard, to which his chairman quipped: “every jewish boy wants to be at Harvard”.

Says Seligman:

He hit the target and shamed me, and so I turned Harvard down.

Life-Strategy Tip: Hire Your Worst Critics

Teasdale had just delivered a scathing criticism of Seligman’s “learned helplessness” research. 
And this is how Seligman reacted:

I was flabbergasted. Teasdale had crystallized, more articulately than I had been able to, my central doubts about my theory.

“Dr. Teasdale is right, I think,” I replied. “These objections are substantive and indeed I do not know attribution theory. So I invite Dr. Teasdale to collaborate with me to dispose of the helplessness theory altogether if necessary, or better to refine it so that it might better fit depression.”

Teasdale, expecting some clever defense, startled visibly, then said, “I accept.” And so John and I began a three-year collaboration.

Teasdale proved to be a great boon to refine and improve the helplessness theory with attribution theory.
Such as, people who attributed their succcess to themselves, and the failures to external causes, remained more optimistic and kept trying harder.

Life Strategies: Not Being Wrong VS Not Being Boring

Please read here:

This is very relvant for psychology students as well as for life strategies in general.

QUOTES

On fake activism VS real activism:

Dave was the saintly roommate, the one who went down to Mississippi and got beaten up in 1964. The rest of us just talked the talk.

On the future of humanity, getting rid of all the ills of our past:

We will go out into the world and plant gardens and orchards to the horizons, we will build roads through the mountains and across the deserts, and terrace the mountains and irrigate the deserts until there will be garden everywhere, and plenty for all, and there will be no more empires or kingdoms, no more caliphs, sultans, emirs, khans, or zamindars, no more kings or queens or princes, no more quadis or mullahs or ulema, no more slavery and no more usury, no more property and no more taxes, no more rich and no more poor, no killing or maiming or torture or execution, no more jailers and no more prisoners, no more generals, soldiers, armies or navies, no more patriarchy, no more caste, no more hunger, no more suffering than what life brings us for being born and having to die, and then we will see for the first time what kind of creatures we really are.

CONS

  • Essentially, an autobiography

Says one Amazong reviewer:

You will not learn any type of “how to” regarding positive psychology, but you will learn every tedious detail of Seligman’s life.

And another one:

He had unremarkable red wine with some professors in MI. He honeymooned at Le Jardin something or other. How is this useful for positive psychology? It isn’t! Now if you’re interested in learning more about the author this is fantastic reading; I’m not. I don’t have the time.

Tes, they are right, it’s in good part an autobiography.

But there is plenty of positive psychology here, and there is also plenty of lessons learned from what Seligman discloses about his life, and from you can learn reading between the lines.

  • A bit of a self-absorbed tone

Says one reviewer on Amazon:

It reads like the memoir of a celebrity, enthralled by his own magnificence

And a different one:

I also noticed a lot of ME, ME, ME, ME the great contacts he has, and how bright he is. Please, Seligman needs to have a bumper sticker that says ” Say no to arrogance” 

And a  third one:

The author is likely brilliant as he will spare no amount of text to tell you. After I realized what I had gotten, I just started skimming through the book and nearly every paragraph has an I, me, my, or the rare we in it

I think there is plenty of value in “The Hope Circuit”, but I can see how some peopl felt that way.

  • A touch of narcissism?

Overall, it fees like Seligman might be a bit of a narcissist.

He talks a lot about “achieving immortality”, and which scientist is going to achieve it or not.

He then says as he reflects on his life:

I am more conscious of the awards and honors that I have not gotten than of those I have.

And he says, more than once:

my ambition was to be like Wittgenstein, surrounded by devoted students and followers.

  • Lack of economic understanding?

Seligman says that “with every suicide, divorce, or automobile accident, GDP goes up”.
But that’s not wholly true. Destruction of property might provide stimuls in the short run, but not in the long run.

Over-patriotism / Jingoism

This is the bit I liked the least.

Seligman says he is a “patriotic American, eager to help his country in a time of great need”.

And later on:

We cannot know what the future holds, but, unfashionable as it is, I strongly believe that when in doubt, we should err on the side of helping our nation.

Strongly believe?
I can see why the social activists didn’t like Seligman. 
I believe that when in doubt you should sek more information, not lend your support to a random faction. 

Yet later again:

I want to encourage scientists and mental health practitioners to come to the aid of our government, and I urge them not to let this tactic deter them.

Why should he encourage scientists to aid the government?
People can freely choose what they wanna do without Seligman having to “encourage” anyone. Least of all, encouraging to help the government, independently of the government’s decisions.

It’s a bit sad, frankly.
And the beautiful words of the books’ ending on “nore more kingdoms and empires” stand in contrast to Seligman’s own parochialism.

Some space wasted exact revenges

I felt there was quite a lot of revenge-seeking in “The Hope Circuit”:

  • Dick Solomon was not a gentleman

For example:

I was surprised by the reaction from our learning theory colleagues—there was none. Dick Solomon, perfect gentleman that he was, never said a word to me about this paper.

  • Barbara Ehrenreich is an idiot (?)

Ehrenreich is confused about reality itself (…) To attribute the meltdown to optimism is pure Ehrenreich fantasy.

  • Most critics of positive psychology are idiots

There is a whole chapter to list and refute criticism against positive psychology. 
Some of it felt a little bit too vitriolic for comfort. 

And some of it, didn’t even deserve space.

He says:

I CANNOT BRING myself to list all the accusations that the trolls of the internet have clubbed me with. Here’s one sample (…)

But one example says nothing.
Because one guy was a crook, does it mean every criticism is a troll?
And if they were, Seligman didn’t even need to mention them.

  • Suzanne Miller was a homewrecker

And about the “femme fatale” Suzanne Miller:

She made no bones about her availability. I was poleaxed. Even with two young children to raise

And next, on her looking for better mates:

The way other men looked at her—and, more, the way she looked back—troubled me. I worried that she was still in the romance market and wanted to trade up.

And in finally trading up:

I probably should have taken more notice of her other flirtations, since unbeknownst to me she had already successfully traded up (…).
Within the year, Walter left his wife, Harriet, for Suzanne

An interesting example of unashamed hypergamy, but it seemed a beat mean of framing her as an unrepentant homewrecker.

Overall, this is all great to understand interpersonal power dynamics, but some people might find it annoying.

PROS

  • Good overview of positive psychology
  • A great text for graduate students:
  • A must-read for aspiring academics: you need to learn the politics and the power dynamics of academia, do well in academia. Some Machiavellianism won’t hurt either

Review

“The Circuit of Hope” is a great book mixing positive psychology wisdom, with the lessons learned of an autobiopgrahy.

Plus, you are going to learn a lot about applied psychology, as in the power dynamics of academia and research circles.

Check the:

 or get the book on Amazon

Processing...