Psychology is still ruled by the Disease Model. But Positivity and Strength-Orientation are gaining Ground

When I talk about Positive Psychology in Germany, I also talk about the necessity for this rather recent branch of research and practice (see the slides below), referring to the fact that most psychological research is centered around a disease model, thereby concentrating on mental illness, its antecedents, and cures – just as Martin Seligman and Mihály Csíkszentmihályi propose in their seminal article Positive Psychology: an Introduction.

Today, I wanted to check if this is really true – and if the onset of Positive Psychology at this millennium has does anything to change that conjectured imbalance. Therefore, I went to Google Scholar and searched for articles which titles` contain either the words depression, anxiety, happiness, or life satisfaction. For a first round, I limited the search to articles that were published between 1900 and 1999. For a second round, I counted all the articles that have been published afterwards. Here´s what I´ve found:

Depression Happiness Graph

A first stunning finding* is the fact that, in the last 15 years, more papers were published than in the previous 100, no matter on what subject. Whether that is a desirable development with regard to quality and impact remains to be seen.

But more importantly, the imbalance between research focusing on desirable vs. undesirable states is clearly visible in the chart. In the 20th century, papers focusing on depression outnumber those focusing on happiness by a factor of 13. For anxiety and life satisfaction, it´s factor 10.9.

Now what has changed over the last 15 years? The answer is: Positive Psychology has made quite an impact: an increasing publication rate in this branch of psychology results in a (at least slightly) more balanced ratio. Depression outnumbers happiness by “only” 5.7, anxiety outnumbers life satisfaction by “only” 5.8.

I´ve put the world “only” in parentheses since that still is very far away from a sort of equilibrium. But progress has been achieved. And there will be more…

Traditional Psychology  Positive Psychology - Dr. Nico Rose

 

 

 

 

 

* Of course, the overall number of publications is much higher. But I suppose that counting papers containing a specific word in the title is a pretty decent proxy for the general writing activity in a sub-branch of research.

A joyful Life is an individual Creation that cannot be copied from a Recipe.

This powerful quote by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi reminds us that we should approach conventional self-help “wisdom” (but also Positive Psychology interventions) with a certain amount of caution.

There will always be gurus who claim to know the way, and Facebook/Twitter are full of posts such as “These are the 7 things successful/rich/happy people do before breakfast”. These people greatly underestimate human individuality – and the power of context and timing.

Positive Psychology researchers also suggests doing certain things (such as being grateful frequently) but, in general, are very cautious when making claims about efficacy. Additionally, there’s a growing body of research investigating so-called fit models, showing that people may profit greatly from some Positive Psychology interventions, but may not do so with regard to other exercises, e.g., due to individual preferences. If you would like to find out more, I suggest checking out this research article: To each his own well-being boosting intervention: using preference to guide selection.

The Art of Coaching: Making a Leap of Faith

I´ve just moved into a new home – and that means I also had to renovate my coaching office. The new office is slightly larger than my old one – so I had a little more wall space to fill. In a local gallery, I´ve found the picture you can see below. I knew I wanted to buy it right away. Though being rather calm and monotonous, I feel it conveys optimism, confidence, and exuberant strength.

A successful coaching process often involves making a leap of faith, seeing things in a new way, leaving something old behind – sometimes, without knowing exactly what will appear instead. Believing in one´s own strength and resources in crucial when pursuing this trajectory.

I hope the picture will inspire this kind of self-efficacy my clients…

Nico Rose - Positive Psychology

A new fantastic Resource: thepositivepsychologypeople.com

Positive Psychology PeopleFor all of you that just cannot get enough of first-class Positive Psychology content – here’s something brand new for you:

http://thepositivepsychologypeople.com

The site was launched yesterday (UN´s International Happiness Day). All content will be supplied by a truly international team of outstanding researchers and practitioners, among them Lesley Lyle, Sandip Roy (who is a part of Happiness India Project), and Seph Fontane Pennock (who also runs PositivePsychologyProgram).

I wish you best of luck and millions of studious readers!

Great Infographic on Self-Compassion: How not to be Hard on Yourself

For UN´s International Happiness Day, I´d like to share with you this great infographic created by information designer Anna Vital. It´s a wonderful piece of advise on the art (and science) of self-compassion. Additionally, you might want to watch Kristin Neff´s TEDx talk on the same topic that you can find in my Positive Psychology TED suggestions. Enjoy!

Self-Compassion - Anna Vital

 

March 20 is International Happiness Day! Join our virtual Conference feat. +30 Positive Psychology Experts

International_Happiness_Day_2015Ever since 2012, March 20 is UN´s International Happiness Day. All around the world, people will celebrate and host events to educate their fellow human beings on all things happiness, well-being, and flourishing.

And I´m in as well – as part of a Virtual Happiness Conference. 32 fellow Penn Mappsters were interviewed on their favorite Positive Psychology subject, among them a lot of people you might already know because they were featured on Mappalicious in one way or the other, e.g. Emilia “Queen of Sisu” Lahti. All in all, there´s more than 24 hours of video material available.

All content will be online for free until March 26. After that, you can purchase the videos. Every cent will go to the Christopher Peterson Memorial Fellowship which helps future students to afford attending Penn´s MAPP program.

As for my part: I was interviewed by the fabulous Lisa Sansom on the role of Positive Psychology in coaching, the subject of Self-Permission, and the “German way” of Positive Psychology. This is the link to the conference site.

Enjoy – and please share to good news!

International Happiness Day Experts