York University

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Is there a stigma attached to positivity?

I was going to write a lengthy argument about this but I want to give the conversation some space to grow. Basically if you've ever been called too idealistic or preachy you have some experience with something I like to call the stigma of positivity.

Is it warranted to say there is a stigma attached to being too positive? And what is it protective of?

Have you ever tried to make your case about something with a positive outlook and have your opinion be disregarded as too naive?

Are you attracted to narratives or pieces of art that have a message of growth embedded within? Do you fear it being labelled as too socially conscious or even "corny"?

What do you think about this?

  • Jan 26 2012: I have schizophrenia and am stigmatized to no end, none of it true. I deal with it by saying to myself, I don't really care what anyone else thinks about me and I don't. I am comfortable and confident with myself and have achieved a lot in spite of this illness. So I would say to you, why do you even care if someone does this to you they are just ignorant or uneducated. Be your positive self at all times and don't worry about what anyone else thinks about it.
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    Jan 19 2012: I see your point, but depression can also be subconscious and work to affect a person's interpretive framework and leak out into their attitudes. Subconscious phenomena remain poorly understood and poorly researched other than among the Freudians. Freud's "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life" remains a classic and explains how the little ordinary glitches we experience in our daily thought processes and subsequent actions have deeply symbolic motivation. Consider that you think at talking speeds with words mostly, yet electrical signals in the brain are ocurring 20,000 times faster- computations and anticipations and conclusions occurring in unperceived ways before the thought reaches consciousness. People can have depression but not show it except by a vague sense of unease about attitudes that are anti-depressive or situations that trigger a more overtly depressive response.
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    Jan 18 2012: The stigma you refer to is decreed only by depressive neurotics and their opinion shouldn't matter to an optimist. Optimism is absolutely necessary for survival if not happiness as well. No human can live without the concept of an ideal future and call himself human. That's what the entirety of human progress has been based upon, a more ideal, future state.
    • Jan 18 2012: I'm not so sure Walter, as to the stigma only being invoked by depressive neurotics. I communicate with many people who are actually in outreach settings, with future-oriented focus, and it is even those I feel the stigma coming from. I mean it in a more subtle sense, like simply not attending to positive messages, or telling someone to stop being 'preachy', these are the kinds of things done casually in conversation that I feel are actually a part of this stigma that pervades our society. People have a tendency to not take seriously the messages of compassion, self-enhancement, and optimism offered by other people or institutions of any kind. Just recently I attended a workshop on positive psychology and one of the people there quickly asked upon entering "this isn't one of those self-help things is it?", and sort of cringed at the idea of it. It's embedded fairly deeply in the common psyche.
  • Jan 17 2012: Sometimes the problem with people being 'too positive' or 'too happy', is that it reflects the position of 'Ignorance is bliss'. Essentially, unaware of the world around them, allowing some to maintain a 'disney' like state.
    I'm not familiar with any other type of positivity-stigma though.