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.
- Stop Smiling, Start Kvetching: A 5-Step Guide to Creative Complaining, by Barbara Held, Ph.D.
- Kvetch defined
- American Psychological Association
- Arnold Lazarus, founder of cognitive behavior therapy
- depressive realism
- Sing your kvetch, in Finland: the Helsinki Complaints Choir (music video)
- The “no complaints” church movement (and the 21-day complaint-free church challenge)
- Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, by Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D.
- Positive psychology
- Learned helplessness (and Martin Seligman’s dog experiments)
- Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, by Barbara Ehrenreich
- Norman Vincent Peale
- The Positive Power of Negative Thinking: Using Defensive Pessimism to Harness Anxiety and Perform at Your Peak, by Julie Norem, Ph.D.
- Defensive pessimism
- The Positive Side of Negative Emotions, edited by W. Gerrod Parrott
- Tyranny of the positive attitude
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren and her many political kvetches (videos: take your pick)
- President Barack Obama: “Yes, we can!” (video)
- The Negateers
- trailer for Inequality for All, by Robert Reich (video)
- “It’s all good“
- George Carlin: “Have a nice day…“
- Quotes on Fire:
- Brian Tracy (episode 229)
- Hugh Downs (episode 230)
- FDR: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” (from his first inaugural address)
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