A therapist explores the cultural pressure to think positively and defines the difference between optimism and emotional repression, sharing the latest research along with everyday examples and client stories that reveal how damaging "toxic positivity" can be to individuals, their relationships and society.
Goodman’s writing is straightforward and firm but full of empathy and gentle guidance, exactly what you’d want from any therapist, Instagram or no ... Goodman convincingly demonstrates that toxic positivity isn’t new. In fact, she shows that it’s long been woven into almost every aspect of American culture from this country’s earliest days and is, in many ways, our national religion ... Goodman does a good job of zooming out to bigger overarching truths, countering beliefs about how much control we actually have when it comes to living a 100 percent positive life ... This is the rare self-help book where readers might recognize themselves as both victim and perpetrator ... More than a self-help book, this is a society-help book. It’s ambitious but based on the simple idea of being, as Goodman describes herself, 'radically honest' with each other.
Whitney Goodman attempts to straddle the divide between popular psychology and science. Unfortunately, her delicate balancing act does not always succeed ... Her argument sounds compelling, but the way she presents her evidence is unconvincing and disorganized. The book is glutted with case studies, all of which aim to support Goodman’s thesis. These studies can be illuminating, but Goodman has a tendency to jump from one to the next in rapid succession, causing the reader to fall into a new character’s story without time to process the psychological implications of the previous story. She provides a short synthesis of each character’s experience, but it’s not enough to fully connect their story to the toxic trend. Devoting time to fewer, more detailed examples might have better served Goodman’s reasoning and prevented the reader from getting lost. It’s also incredibly difficult to sympathize with those featured in the case studies. Goodman states at the beginning of her book ... the details become too sparse, leaving her stories without depth and emotional charge ... Despite a valiant effort by Goodman, her book’s tendency to sensationalize, lack of organization, and weak narrative arc result in an unremarkable and often unsatisfying read.
Goodman doesn’t mince words as she runs through the basics—what toxic positivity is, why it’s harmful, how to combat it ... She backs it all up with copious amounts of research, examples from clients she’s worked with (unfortunately, though, too few of them), and her own life experiences ... Tools including exercises and bulleted lists make attaining such an even-keeled attitude feel doable. In a genre dominated by the upbeat, Goodman’s realism both stands out and takes the edge off ... Goodman matter-of-factly challenges genre status quo, while maintaining respect for its readers.