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Martin Seligman'S BOOK's

I have been reading his book on Helpness (the one Joel talks about) is quite interesting considering I knew very little about this subject....

Has anyone read his books on Learned Optimism or Authentic Happiness? How are they?

Learned Optimism:*


Prakash S
Thursday, April 8, 2004

All self help books are an attempt to convince you that you're having a jolly good time on the train of life, all the while knowing the train will inevitably run off the tracks in a horrible crash.

Forget all this crap and study zen. All suffering is caused by attachment, it's that simple.

Thursday, April 8, 2004

was not looking for self help, just an interesting perspective!

Prakash S
Friday, April 9, 2004

> all the while knowing the train will
> inevitably run off the tracks in a
> horrible crash.

Yes. So we should enjoy life while we can!

Friday, April 9, 2004

Prakash, I never read these books, but would be interested in your opinion of them, or the one you're reading.

As far as I can tell this concept is based on behaviourism, which was a dominant psychological theory in the middle part of the 1900's. Uh, you know, 40 years ago. Based on the works of Pavlov and Skinner, it says essentially that if A consistently leads to B, you will begin to associate the two. The classic example of the dog who got shocked every time he tried to leave his cage. Eventually he stopped trying, even when the cage door was left open and he really could have left he never did.

While behaviourism hasn't been discredited, it's taken a backseat to other psychological theories in recent years. This was the same philosophy that brought you a passionate interest in the ideas of brainwashing during the cold war.

Still, the concept of Learned Depression is interesting, and I'd probably couple it with Csikszentmihalyi's concept of Flow - that is, the study of being fully engaged, which could be seen as being on the opposite end of the spectrum from depression.

I know you haven't read Authentic Happiness (which I would guess is an attempt to capitalize on this idea), but what would Seligman say the path out of depression is? More conditioned responses, or somehow (and how exactly) breaking out of them?
Friday, April 9, 2004


I think you're mixing up classical conditioning and operant conditioning.  Neither of those is tied explicitly to behaviorism.  Behaviorism is an approach to psychology that treats the mind as a black box (essentially) and talks only about the mapping between stimulus and response.  A 'purist' behaviorist says that that's *all* that psychology should deal with, and not any explanations of internal processes and so on.  Modern cognitive psychology has a better approach, I think.

Friday, April 9, 2004

Okay, sorry, I know a little about what I'm talking about, but now a whole heck of a lot. I tend to read what interests me, and not go after the textbook stuff. In any case, I'm still interested in what Seligman has to say about "curing" something that's been learned.
Friday, April 9, 2004


he does talk about the "dogs" experience a lot.  I will let you know what I think..

Prakash S
Saturday, April 10, 2004

I would imagine that Pavlov's experience with training dogs, and their training was lost in a disaster (I think a flood) in his office. He could retrain them, but they resisted it.

I think maybe some kind of "waking up" experience could get you out of a "learned depression." Ever feel really depressed, and then something radical happens in your life - travel, an old friend visits, someone compliments you on a job well done, etc. and you snap out of it?

The alternate version would be "learned happiness" which I imagine would be much more difficult, and probbaly cost thousands of dollars in therapist bills.
Sunday, April 11, 2004


this article is a interesting:

where Charlie Munger talks about excatly what you mention.

Prakash S
Sunday, April 11, 2004

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