Shelves: self-esteem , nonfiction , religion A couple weeks ago a fellow Toastmaster mentioned this book in a speech he delivered. Always seeking something new and not being unaware of my lack of enthusiasm I purchased this Kindle version of the book. It was okay. For that, it is a good enough read.

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The book was written in alternating chapters, with Blanton writing one chapter, then Peale. Blanton espoused no particular religious point of view in his chapters. In this clinic of psychotherapy and religion grew into the American Foundation of Religion and Psychiatry, with Peale serving as president and Blanton as executive director.

Blanton did not allow Peale to use his name in The Power of Positive Thinking and declined to defend Peale publicly when he came under criticism. As scholar Donald Meyer describes it: "Peale evidently imagined that he marched with Blanton in their joint labors in the Religio-psychiatric Institute. This was not exactly so. Under sponsorship of the National Council of Churches he moved into television when the new medium arrived. In the meantime he had begun to edit the magazine Guideposts and to write books.

His sermons were mailed monthly. Watson , President and Founder of IBM, to form the first board of 40Plus , an organization that helps unemployed managers and executives. Peale was a prolific writer; The Power of Positive Thinking is by far his most widely read work. First published in , it stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for [7] consecutive weeks, and according to the publisher, Simon and Schuster, the book has sold around 5 million copies.

The fact that the book has sold 5 million copies is printed on the cover of the current edition in both paperback and hard cover, and directly contradicts exaggerated claims that the book has sold more than 20 million copies [8] [9] in 42 languages. This organization aims to recognize and honor Americans who have been successful in spite of difficult circumstances. In he officiated at the wedding of Julie Nixon and David Eisenhower.

Hard to substantiate[ edit ] One major criticism of The Power of Positive Thinking is that the book is full of anecdotes that are hard to substantiate. Almost all of the experts and many of the testimonials that Peale quotes as supporting his philosophy are unnamed, unknown and unsourced. Examples include a "famous psychologist", [16] a two-page letter from a "practicing physician", [16] another "famous psychologist", [16] a "prominent citizen of New York City", [16] and dozens, if not hundreds, more unverifiable quotations.

Similar scientific studies of questionable validity are also cited. As psychiatrist R. Murphy exclaimed, "All this advertising is vindicated as it were, by a strict cleaving to the side of part truth," and referred to the work and the quoted material as "implausible and woodenly pious".

Murphy writes "Self knowledge, in Mr. If the unconscious of man So does the reliance on self-hypnosis, which is the cornerstone of Mr. Ellis described one of his case studies: "One of my year-old clients, Sidney, read everything that Norman Vincent Peale ever wrote, went to many of his sermons at Marble Collegiate Church, and turned many of his friends onto trusting completely in God and in the Reverend Peale to cure them of all their ills.

When some of these friends, in spite of their vigorous positive thinking, wound up in the mental hospital, and when Sidney had to turn to massive doses of tranquilizers to keep himself going, he became disillusioned Ellis contends the Peale approach is dangerous, distorted, unrealistic. He compares the black or white view of life that Peale teaches to a psychological disorder borderline personality disorder , perhaps implying that dangerous mental habits which he sees in the disorder may be brought on by following the teaching.

With saccharine terrorism, Mr. Peale refuses to allow his followers to hear, speak or see any evil. For him real human suffering does not exist; there is no such thing as murderous rage, suicidal despair, cruelty, lust, greed, mass poverty, or illiteracy.

All these things he would dismiss as trivial mental processes which will evaporate if thoughts are simply turned into more cheerful channels. This attitude is so unpleasant it bears some search for its real meaning. It is clearly not a genuine denial of evil but rather a horror of it. A person turns his eyes away from human bestiality and the suffering it evokes only if he cannot stand to look at it. By doing so he affirms the evil to be absolute, he looks away only when he feels that nothing can be done about it In international relationships it leads to war.

As soon as a religious authority endorses our capacity for hatred, either by refusing to recognize unpleasantness in the style of Mr Peale or in the more classical style of setting up a nice comfortable Satan to hate, it lulls our struggles for growth to a standstill In his article "Confidence Man", Meyer writes, "In more classic literature, this sort of pretension to mastery has often been thought to indicate an alliance with a Lower rather than a Higher power.

It is important to see the difference: Is Positive Psychology just positive thinking warmed over? Positive Psychology has a philosophical connection to positive thinking, but not an empirical one. Positive Psychology is also tied at its foundations to the individual freely choosing, and in this sense both endeavors have common roots. But Positive Psychology is also different in significant ways from positive thinking, in that Positive Psychology is based on scientific accuracy while positive thinking is not, and that positive thinking could even be fatal in the wrong circumstances.

First, positive thinking is an armchair activity. Positive Psychology, on the other hand, is tied to a program of empirical and replicable scientific activity. Second, Positive Psychology does not hold a brief for positivity. There is a balance sheet, and in spite of the many advantages of positive thinking, there are times when negative thinking is to be preferred. Although there are many studies that correlate positivity with later health, longevity, sociability, and success, the balance of the evidence suggests that in some situations negative thinking leads to more accuracy.

Where accuracy is tied to potentially catastrophic outcomes for example, when an airplane pilot is deciding whether to de-ice the wings of her airplane , we should all be pessimists. With these benefits in mind, Positive Psychology aims for the optimal balance between positive and negative thinking. Third, many leaders in the Positive Psychology movement have spent decades working on the "negative" side of things.

Positive Psychology is a supplement to negative psychology, not a substitute. Learned optimism, in contrast, is about accuracy" Ibid, page Another difference experts noted was that though Seligman describes his positive psychology as a self-empowering program completely within the ability of the individual to achieve on his or her own, experts described positive thinking as disempowering to the individual and a religion of weakness, where individuals are told by Peale they cannot overcome their negative circumstances without his autosuggestive "techniques," which he claims will give them the power of God.

As Donald Meyer quotes Peale as saying, "No man, however resourceful or pugnacious, is a match for so great an adversary as a hostile world. He is at best a puny and impotent creature quite at the mercy of the cosmic and social forces in the midst of which he dwells. Pantheon books, , p. Meyer, like Seligman, notes that such unrealistic thinking by a positive thinker could easily be fatal.

Faith that you could defeat an opponent who could run faster than you would be contemptible since it could only mean you expected God to lend you power He refused to lend your opponent or that you hoped your opponent lacked self-knowledge, lacked faith, and hence failed to use his real powers.

Such faith could be fatal if it led you into competitions it would be fatal to lose. As for those competitions where luck or accident or providence might decide, certainly the faith which looked to luck or accident or providence would be contemptible, and also possibly fatal Ibid, p. Krumm, criticized Peale and the "heretical character" of his teaching on positive thinking. Krumm cites "the emphasis upon techniques such as the repetition of confident phrases Very little is said about the sovereign mind and purpose of God; much is made of the things men can say to themselves and can do to bring about their ambitions and purposes.

Anything which corrupts the gospel hurts Christianity. And it hurts people too. It helps them to feel good while they are evading the real issues of life. Redbook magazine, September , pp. God becomes sort of a master psychiatrist who will help you get out of your difficulties.

The formulas and the constant reiteration of such themes as "You and God can do anything" are very nearly blasphemous. Bromley Oxnam, a Methodist bishop in Washington D. This kind of preaching is making Christianity a cult of success. They keep coming back for more.

It keeps their minds on a superficial level and encourages emotional dependency. It is an escape from reality. People under stress do one of two things; seek shelter or respond to harsh reality by a deeper recognition of what they are up against.

In spite of the attacks, Peale did not resign from his church, though he repeatedly threatened that he would. He also never directly challenged or rebutted his critics.

Meanwhile, his book The Power of Positive Thinking had stopped selling by , [27] As Donald Meyer noted, at first It was evident that Peale had managed to tap wide audiences formed by prolonged changes in the tone and morale of American society, for whom the coherence of Protestantism even as late as the early twentieth century was not enough.

His attackers did not fall short of declaring his Protestantism non-existent. Peale survived. As he himself recounted it, he found himself stunned by the attacks. Troubled, even considering the virtues of resigning his post, he entered his season of withdrawal. There he found his answer. His father assured him he must go on. Was he not, after all, helping millions? Besides, it was unheard of in a democratic society for a man to believe his lonely critics when millions had approved.

And so he returned. Finally, in consistent exemplification of the logic of the new religion, Peale proved he was right as well by publishing the testimonies of those declaring that for them positive thinking had indeed worked.

There was no particular reason to doubt them. They said the Peale message was not only factually false but also misrepresented Christianity. Reinhold Niebuhr told the public the Peale message was "a partial picture of Christianity, a sort of half-truth", and added "The basic sin of this cult is its egocentricity. Redbook, September, , p. Edmund Fuller, novelist, book critic, and book review editor of the Episcopal Churchnews took it a step further.

They are represented as a revival or response in Christianity with which they have no valid connection. They influence, mislead and often disillusion sick, maladjusted, unhappy or ill-constructed people, obscuring for them the Christian realities.

They offer easy comforts, easy solutions to problems and mysteries that sometimes perhaps, have no comforts or solutions at all, in glib, worldly terms. The panacea of positive thinking has been called by qualified people a positive hazard to the delicate marginal areas of mental health". He was teaching Mental Photography all over again.


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