The Perils & Pitfalls of Positive Thinking

A friend recently alerted me to an excellent article entitled ‘The Perils and Pitfalls of Positive Thinking’, by Dr Peter Harvey, a clinical psychologist who has worked extensively with people living with cancer. He acknowledges that the article has “…a deliberately provocative title, and … not one chosen without some careful thought. It is grounded in what people have told me when describing the experience that some of you may have had: that of being exhorted to think/feel/be positive as being the way to beat cancer. People tell me that such statements often come at times when they are feeling at their most vulnerable. And, I have to say, it is this experience that fuels my concern. The reason for this is entirely due to my being unsure of what we mean by ‘being positive’

Anyone who has ever been on the receiving end (or indeed the giving end) of [probably well-meant] strictures to ‘be positive’ will find lots to reflect on in Dr Harvey’s article. Among the many good points he makes is a suggestion for replacing the term ‘positive thinking’ with ‘constructive coping’.

You can read here the full text of Dr Harvey’s article, published by the National Conference of Cancer Self-Help Groups…


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