#3 Barbara Held: Stop Smiling, Start Kvetching

Podcast outro song: Double Life, by HASH / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

When I first requested an interview with Barbara Held — a professor of psychology at Bowdoin College — she turned me down. But then we talked… each of us kvetched a little… and soon we had agreed on a format for our Q&A. And to be honest, I think her initial concerns were spot on, which clearly demonstrates the power of creative kvetching. Details, and lots more, this episode.



Dr. Barbara Held is the Barry N. Wish Professor of Psychology and Social Studies at Bowdoin College. As a teacher, she focuses on personality, psychopathology, and psychotherapy; as a researcher, she studies the conceptual underpinnings of movements in psychology, especially the postmodernist and positive psychology movements. In 2012, she received the Joseph B Gittler Award, which is presented by the American Psychological Foundation in recognition of the most scholarly contribution to the philosophical foundations of psychological knowledge. Dr Held’s books include Back To Reality: A Critique of Postmodern Theory in Psychotherapy. In 2007, she published Psychology’s Interpretive Turn: The Search for Truth and Agency in Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology. But the book for which she is probably best known is Stop Smiling, Start Kvetching: A 5-Step Guide to Creative Complaining, in which she challenges what she calls the “tyranny of the positive attitude in America.” The book led to worldwide media attention, including features in The New York Times and People magazine, as well as appearances  on the Today show, National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation, and the BBC and the CBC. Stop Smiling, Start Kvetching also helped establish Dr. Held as a leading critic of the positive psychology movement, which is one reason I’m so excited to have her on this show.

Show notes

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  1. G Money says

    Yo PDP! I just finished listening to this, and I would like to cast my official vote in favor of the new interview format. You rocked it, homebro! Just one question though: If you’re no longer a douchebag in the podcasts, do I still get to be a dick in the comments?

  2. says

    Thanks for the feedback, G. And go ahead and say it: I told you so.

    Re: you being a dick — yes, of course. Every comments section needs at least one — and so far you’re the only dick here. (Wait. Here’s an idea: I could troll my own website, spewing a torrent of abuse and obscenities at myself. … Or has that been done already?)

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