Academic journal article International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology

Positive Pychology: Zeigeist (or Spirit of the Times) or Ignorance (or Disinformation) of History?1

Academic journal article International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology

Positive Pychology: Zeigeist (or Spirit of the Times) or Ignorance (or Disinformation) of History?1

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT. This paper provides a critical review of Positive Psychology as a paradigm. From its origins in the late 1990s, Positive Psychology has acquired great popularity without any critical thinking. The dissemination of its un-innovative discourse in the mass media and specialized journals is an example of the popularity it has gained. This unquestioned acceptance of the discourse of Positive Psychology has taken place all over the world, including Spain and Latin America. After reviewing the general characteristics of Positive Psychology, the article discusses the shortcomings that this paradigm should overcome to be considered reliable and valid. Succinctly, the review concludes that the theoretical approach of Positive Psychology is not novel. The discourse that supports positive psychology as a new and original approach is in fact an exhibition of disinformation and ignorance of Philosophy, cultural Anthropology and the history of Psychology. In conclusion, the future of Positive Psychology requires overcoming the serious theoretical and practical problems that prevent it from being considered a new paradigm.

KEYWORDS. Positive Psychology. Individualism. Tyranny of the positive attitude. Theoretical study.

RESUMEN. El objetivo del presente trabajo es realizar una exposición crítica de la situación actual de la Psicología Positiva. Desde su nacimiento formal a finales de los años noventa, la Psicología Positiva ha ido adquiriendo, sin demasiada reflexión crítica, cada vez más popularidad. La diseminación de su discurso, por otro lado nada novedoso, en los medios de comunicación y publicaciones especializadas constituye un ejemplo de la popularidad adquirida. Esta aceptación irreflexiva ha tenido lugar en todo el mundo occidental, incluyendo España y Latinoamérica, admitiendo también los países de habla portuguesa. Después de numerar algunas características generales de la Psicología Positiva, se expone una serie de críticas que tiene que superar, si quiere conseguir llegar a ser un paradigma respetable, válido y fiable. Se concluye que la teoría de la Psicología Positiva no tiene nada de novedoso. Lo que en ella parece original es una manifestación del desconocimiento o desinformación de algunas ideas acerca de la historia de la Psicología, la Filosofía y la Antropología cultural. El futuro de la Psicología Positiva debería pasar por superar los graves problemas teóricos y prácticos que sirven como argumento para no considerarla como un nuevo paradigma.

PALABRAS CLAVE. Psicología Positiva. Individualismo. Tiranía de la actitud positiva. Estudio teórico.

Positive Psychology is part of the spirit of the times of psychological knowledge. Currently, a wealth of articles and books are being published and many scientific meetings of all kinds are being held with the sole purpose of highlighting the benefits of the Psychology of the optimal development of human beings. As an example, a review (2012-02-08) of publications with the tag «positive psychology» in PsycINFO revealed 902 peer-reviewed articles, 614 books and 112 doctoral dissertations published since 2000, with just a few anecdotal exceptions (n = 4). The ratio between verified empirical evidence (i.e., articles in peer-reviewed journals) and theoretical dissertations or nonverified evidence (i.e., non-peer-reviewed books) was 1.47; this ratio is considerably low (for comparison purposes, the ratio for behaviorism was twice as high, 2.93) considering that science is based on the empirical evidence supporting theoretical discourse. The academic and scientific usefulness of so many publications and meetings is very doubtful. In fact, their proliferation in such short time seems to reveal a temporary fashion or Zeitgeist rather than significant progress in knowledge. In other words, it appears to be the result of giving in to the empire of fashion and the dominant discourse without any critical thinking at a specific time in history.

The discourse of Positive Psychology has provided an integrating view of the world of human beings and their historical process of living. …

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