Lukianoff and Haidt do an excellent job of reminding readers of how the assumption of fragility can be disempowering ... In the effort to grow 'Coddling' from a popular article into a popular book, the authors engage in what they in another context label as distorted thinking: 'catastrophizing.' They turn their target phenomenon into something dramatic, urgent and very new ... Lukianoff and Haidt's insights on the dangers of creating habits of 'moral dependency' are timely and important, and the concluding self-help section of the book is reasonable: Keep 'em safe, but not too safe.
The book, which expands on a widely circulated 2015 article in The Atlantic, identifies what the authors refer to as 'the three Great Untruths' of the current moment: 'what doesn’t kill you makes you weaker'; 'always trust your feelings'; 'life is a battle between good people and evil people.' It’s a moment profoundly reshaped in the sanitized image of the hyper-connected and -protected 'iGen' generation (short for 'internet generation'), which directly succeeds the millennials. Members of iGen, according to the psychologist Jean Twenge, who coined the term, are 'obsessed with safety,' which they define to include expansive notions of 'emotional safety.'
The framing leaves no room to consider how historical and social change might legitimately change institutions or individuals, or that individuals might want to change their world. (This framing also explains how they can write hundreds of pages about what’s wrong with contemporary higher education and not mention debt or adjuncts) ... The Coddling of the American Mind is less interesting for its anecdotes or arguments, which are familiar, than as an epitome of a contemporary liberal style ... The style that does befit an expert, apparently, is the style of TED talks, thinktanks and fellow Atlantic writers and psychologists. The citations in this book draw a circle around a closed world ... Who will fix the crisis? The people who are already in charge ... The rhetorical appeal, here, shares a structure with the appeal that carried the enemy in chief of political correctness to the White House: 'That’s just common sense' ... Like Trump, the authors romanticise a past before 'identity' but get fuzzy and impatient when history itself comes up ... For all their self-conscious reasonableness, and their promises that CBT can master negative emotion, Lukianoff and Haidt often seem slightly hurt ... Their problem with 'microaggressions' is this framework emphasises impact over intentions, a perspective that they dismiss as clearly ludicrous. Can’t these women and minorities see we mean well? This is the incredulity of people who have never feared being stereotyped ... The minds they coddle just may be their own.
Tales of political correctness run amok—indeed, many of the incidents recounted in The Coddling of the American Mind—are nothing new to anyone who has been paying even fitful attention to college trends ... Despite the 'coddling' angle of the title, Messrs. Lukianoff and Haidt try not to fall into the trap of claiming that modern young people are uniquely lazy or whiny ... it is unfortunate that many of the proposed solutions in The Coddling of the American Mind are less than satisfying ... The authors’ most compelling idea is that elite colleges show a preference for students who are mature enough to engage with the world as it is rather than demanding a world of safe spaces.
The authors tell a tale of overprotective parents eager to make everything safe for their offspring, leaving little room for young people to learn from their mistakes because they were shielded from ever making any ... This is reminiscent of conservatives’ accusation that radicals in the 1960s were a product of permissive child-rearing practices derived from Benjamin Spock. Every age seems to have its own cures for the previous generation’s supposedly poor child-rearing ... Lukianoff and Haidt do an excellent job of reminding readers that assumption of fragility can be disempowering. But are students today disempowered because they’ve been convinced they are fragile, or do they feel vulnerable because they are facing problems like climate change and massive, nasty inequality? ... Lukianoff and Haidt don’t answer these questions but instead rehearse the by-now familiar list of campus demonstrations allowed to run amok ... beginning their unfortunately titled chapter 'Witch Hunts' with the Chinese Cultural Revolution is either offensive or comical, depending on the reader’s mood ... The authors are right to push back hard against the cultivation of fragility and victimhood, and to defend free speech as essential to the mission of higher education. Professors and students shouldn’t be afraid to express themselves, make mistakes, find better ways of thinking and living through passionate disputation. Lukianoff and Haidt’s insights on the dangers of creating habits of 'moral dependency' are timely and important, and the concluding self-help section of the book is reasonable: Keep ’em safe, but not too safe.
Trigger warnings. Safe spaces. Preferred pronouns. Checked privileges. If you work at an American university these days, you have to tread as if on eggshells, if not land mines ... The speed with which campus life has changed for the worse is one of the most important points made by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt in this important if disturbing book.
The book paints a picture of a college-age generation less prepared and less resilient than ever to take on a complex, rough and tumble adult world. Sometimes technical and intricate, Coddling lays out an exhaustive argument that may tax some but will persuade many ... The individual social factors the book identifies as culprits in our current dysfunction will not be unfamiliar. But the holistic interconnectedness the book perceives between rising suicide rates, violent protest, and the absence of a more constructive framework for controversy and debate will be new. Given short shrift, perhaps, are the various economic and political interests that, like Burroughs’ Nova Mob, strive to maintain this self-destructive status quo of civility. The remedies the book outlines should be considered on college campuses, among parents of current and future students, and by anyone longing for a more sane society.
Noting a rise of anxiety and depression among teenagers and threats to free speech on many college campuses, Lukianoff, an attorney and president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and social psychologist Haidt offer an incisive analysis of the causes of these problems and a measured prescription for change ... The authors offer practical suggestions for parents (allow children independence and nurture self-reliance) and teachers (cultivate intellectual virtues and teach debate skills) to guide children into adulthood ... An important examination of dismaying social and cultural trends.
Lukianoff and Haidt see everything through this scratched lens...they disregards the realities of race...The authors suggest that if victims just turn their other cheek everything will be okay. This to me is part of the problem with their argument: it suggests any student who feels anxious or fearful (mistreated) needs to recognize that emotion as false and seek therapy to right themselves. It medicalizes American society and blames victims for societal ills. And, moreover, it implies that today’s students have nothing to be anxious about ... It is clear that college students need to be more resilient and also more engaged with academic and civic life. But this shouldn’t excuse away the moments of vulnerability and harm they experience on campus. Telling students to suck it up or get therapy isn’t an effective strategy in this or probably any era. Cultural change, necessary cultural change, is a slow process—we didn’t get here overnight—and mass CBT will not fix all our problems. Education is messy, like life, and in both we have a responsibility to redress harm.