SHARIFABDELKOUDDOUS: And how did this ideology, this positive thinking movement, become so pervasive in American society? You document its rise in the culture.
BARBARAEHRENREICH: Yeah, well, I go back to the nineteenth century, because I’m always interested in history. But it really began to take off in a very big way in about the ’80s and ’90s, because the corporate world got very interested in it, got interested in it during the age of downsizing, because it was a way to say to the person who was losing his or her job, just as you would say to the breast cancer patient, “This is in your mind. You know, you can overcome this. If you — if something bad has happened to you, that must mean you have a bad attitude. And now, if you want everything to be alright, just focus your thoughts in this new positive way, and you’ll be OK.”
I can’t tell you how many times I have read people who have lost their jobs in this recession in the newspaper saying, “But I’m trying so hard to be positive.” Well, maybe there’s no reason to be positive. Maybe you should be angry, you know? I mean, there is a place for that in the world.