Positive Psychology, Positive Prevention, and Positive Therapy
Martin E. P. Seligman
mindedness, high talent, and wisdom. At the group level it is about the civic virtues and the institutions that move individuals toward better citizenship: responsibility, nurturance, altruism, civility, moderation, tolerance, and work ethic
(Gillham & Seligman, 1999; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000).
The notion of a positive psychology movement began at a moment in time a few months after I had been elected president of the American Psychological Association. It took place in my garden while I was weeding with my 5year-old daughter, Nikki. I have to confess that even though I write books about children, I’m really not all that good with them. I am goaloriented and time-urgent, and when I am weeding in the garden, I am actually trying to get the weeding done. Nikki, however, was throwing weeds into the air and dancing around. I yelled at her. She walked away, came back, and said, “Daddy, I want to talk to you.”
“Daddy, do you remember before my ﬁfth birthday? From the time I was three to the time
I was ﬁve, I was a whiner. I whined every day.
When I turned ﬁve, I decided not to whine anymore. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever
Psychology after World War II became a science largely devoted to healing. It concentrated on repairing damage using a disease model of human functioning. This almost exclusive attention to pathology neglected the idea of a fulﬁlled individual and a thriving community, and it neglected the possibility that building strength is the most potent weapon in the arsenal of therapy. The aim of positive psychology is to catalyze a change in psychology from a preoccupation only with repairing the worst things in life to also building the best qualities in life. To redress the previous imbalance, we must bring the building of strength to the forefront in the treatment and prevention of mental
References: Allport, G. W. (1961). Pattern and growth in personality. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston. Beck, A., Rush, J., Shaw, B., & Emery, G. (1979). Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1993). The evolving self. Gillham, J. E., & Seligman, M. E. P. (1999). Footsteps on the road to positive psychology. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 37, S163–S173. Kirsch, I., & Sapirstein, G. (1998). Listening to Prozac but hearing placebo: A meta-analysis of antidepressant medication. Prevention & Treatment, 1, Article 0002a, posted June 26, 1998. Maslow, A. (1971). The farthest reaches of human nature Myers, D. G. (2000). The funds, friends, and faith of happy people Schwartz, B. (2000). Self-determination: The tyranny of freedom. American Psychologist, 55, 79–88. Seligman, M. (1991). Learned optimism. NY: Knopf. Seligman, M. (1994). What you can change and what you can’t Seligman, M. E. P. (1995). The effectiveness of psychotherapy: The Consumer Reports study. Seligman, M. E. P. (1996). Science as an ally of practice Seligman, M., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 5–14. (2000). Hope theory: Updating a common process for psychological change. In C. R. Snyder & R Vaillant, G. (2000). The mature defenses: Antecedents of joy. American Psychologist, 55, 89– 98.