Positive Psychology and its Discontents: Why Positive Psychology Fails and How it Might Succeed Again (Paperback) book cover

Positive Psychology and its Discontents

Why Positive Psychology Fails and How it Might Succeed Again

By Matthew McDonald, Michael Wearing

© 2017 – Routledge

240 pages

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Paperback: 9781138123489
pub: 2017-05-15
Hardback: 9781138123472
pub: 2017-05-15

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About the Book

Alongside the surging popularity of positive psychology has come a quiet but significant chorus of dissenting voices, raising questions about the movement: that it is philosophically naive, that it uncritically employs natural science research methods, that it takes a separatist stance, is unable to comprehensively acknowledge its theoretical antecedents, and that it is too closely aligned with mainstream US values, beliefs and politics.

Positive Psychology and its Discontents offers the first book- length critique of the field, and proposes an alternative, more inclusive vision. At present positive psychology views other strands of knowledge as adversarial counter-ideologies it must compete with and ultimately discredit. Instead of this intellectual dead end, the authors propose a more productive dialogue with other branches of psychology and the social sciences, making positive psychology more philosophically informed and better able to understand the varying sociocultural contexts that influence and shape people’s ability to lead happy meaningful lives.

It will be important reading for students and researchers in psychology and its allied subject areas, and to interested practitioners within the fields of psychology, mental health, healthcare, education and social work.

Table of Contents

Part One: Criticisms of Positive Psychology

One: Introduction

  • Discovering Positive Psychology

  • Outline of the Book

Two: What Is Positive Psychology?

  • Conception
  • Key Founding Statements
  • Popularity of Positive Psychology
  • Topics of Study
  • Contributions of Positive Psychology

Three: Critiques of Positive Psychology

  • Introduction

  • Philosophy
  • Ethnocentrism
  • Positive-Negative Discourse
  • Summary & Conclusion

Four: Critiques of Applied Positive Psychology

  • Introduction
  • Self-Help

  • Psychotherapy
  • Social Work
  • Workplace
  • Education
  • Military
  • Summary & Conclusion

Part Two: Re-envisioning Positive Psychology

Five: Continental Philosophy: An Alternative Philosophical & Theoretical Basis for Positive Psychology

  • Introduction

  • Existential Philosophy
  • Humanistic Psychology

  • Summary & Conclusion

Six: Sociocultural Forces & Reflexivity

  • Introduction

  • Positive Psychology & Sociocultural Forces
  • Positive Psychology & Reflexivity
  • Summary & Conclusion

Seven: Conclusion - Toward a Critical Positive Psychology

About the Authors

Matthew McDonald is a visiting research fellow in the Graduate School of Psychology, Assumption University, Bangkok..

Stephen Wearing is an associate professor in the Management Discipline Group at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / Counseling
PSYCHOLOGY / Social Psychology
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health