Rus Articles Journal

New view on optimism and pessimism: and whether so you are sure that optimism - always OK?

Being rather a pessimist and the misanthrope, - I admit directly - all the time I feel some discomfort concerning the inferiority as we from are taught everywhere: optimism - it is good, pessimism - it is bad. Whether so it?

Whether it is worth lavishing smiles on each passer, showing openness and own wellbeing? Whether it is necessary to look at everything through pink points or it is inexcusable infantility? Or nevertheless, except reasons for pleasure, in life there are also reasons for chagrin or, at least, for concern? The American psychologists doubted recently what traditionally was one of symbols of prosperity of the USA and her citizens.

Psychologists from the American association of psychologists (The American Psychological Association) gathered in Washington on the symposium which was held under the motto Unnoticed advantages of negativism . It was the first revolt against as one of participants of a symposium was expressed, tyrannies of positive thinking and domination of optimism .

The positive thinking set in in the American society thanks to the combined efforts of Hollywood, television, popular music, the books telling how to help itself, and Sunday church sermons: Everything will be OK! All problems are solvable! Be optimists and the success is provided to you. Optimism is the key to success, prosperity, indestructible health .

The same position was taken in due time also by leaders of the American Association of psychologists. They decided that psychologists too were fond of digging in sincere diseases and in the reasons of everyday failures instead of explaining to people how to grow in itself a cheerful view of things, ability to gain others, to achieve goals. Then the positive movement (positive movement) in psychology was based. Down with all negative, all bad, it is necessary to think and feel positively, any negative emotions, only positive! And now psychologists come to a conclusion that insanity on positivity and optimism went too far. Yes, of course, optimism has pluses, but also there is a lot of minuses. The unilateral view of the world and of itself does not give to the person of a real picture of the events. Professing it, the person will - bondage lives only for today, without thinking of consequences of personal and others` acts. Carelessness and egoism - here the first fruits of thoughtless optimism, participants of the Washington symposium, unforeseen crash of hopes, cruel disappointment - too said its fruits. Each person in life needs also a pessimism share not too to be under a delusion and soberly to see things.

Let`s not forget that the glass can be not only it is half full, but also is half empty - Julia Norem, the expert in social psychology from the State of Massachusetts remembers the known aphorism. Nor investigates so-called protective pessimism - strategy of behavior when the person seeks to lose mentally the forthcoming situation, considering small obstacles which it can face. Let`s assume, it prepares for a public statement. Then he has to imagine what it should do if the microphone cord suddenly breaks, its abstract will depart on a floor, or it will be attacked suddenly by a fit of coughing. He has to remember also the mass of other trifles capable to nullify even the most successful performance. Protective pessimism by results is not worse at all than the strategic optimism forcing the person to avoid carefully thoughts about bad, and in certain respects the pessimistic spirit exerts as a result even the best impact. Reflections about hindrances will allow to capture more stoutly a subject, to see all its parties and thus awake imagination.

Participated in one of specially prepared psychological experiments as those who on character could be ranked as strategic optimists, and those who were inclined to protective pessimism. All participants were divided without preliminary selection into three groups. Everyone should throw darts into a target. One suggested to imagine a set of hindrances and to invent ways of their overcoming. Another had to think that everything will pass smoothly, and participants of this group will show perfection top. To the third group it was told - not to think of anything, and to bathe and sunbathe mentally on the beach.

Having got to the habitual elements, that is imagining different troubles, pessimists showed brilliant results. Worse at them it turned out when they tried to present themselves invincible champions and it is absolutely bad when. like strategic optimists, they tried not to think of anything in general. Optimists, on the contrary, achieved the best results after thoughtless rest on the " beach; and the worst - after tried to present themselves as pessimists and began to think of possible obstacles and difficulties when performing a task. From this doctor Norem drew a conclusion: optimism and pessimism become at every the second nature rooting as in education, so, probably, and in congenital predisposition. But the most important - the fact that at the solution of certain tasks which structure is similar to that that became in experiment protective pessimism if it is natural to the person, was not worse than strategic optimism.

It was told about innateness of two types of attitude on the Washington symposium more than once. The fact that optimism and pessimism are connected with temperament type was known still to Aristotle though as then it became clear, these communications are not so simple, apparently, and to claim that the melancholiac cannot be an optimist, and the sanguine person - the pessimist, would be naive. It was told on a symposium and about in what degree pessimism and optimism can be peculiar to this or that culture. In this area of research of psychologists only begin, but it is already proved, for example, that the natives of Asia living in America are more pessimistic, than natives from the Caucasus.

The popular belief is enough that the pessimistic view has to affect a thing adversely on health and what to smile therefore is more useful, than to frown. However in actual fact it appeared, as it is not always right. To the volunteers chosen in a random way suggested to remember the most tragic events of the life, to think over them several days, and then to describe them with all details in the form of small essays. It was surprising not that burdensome memoirs were not reflected negatively in indicators of health of examinees, and the fact that all of them felt after that better, and this feeling held on at them about four months after completion of experiment. Here pertinently to compare these results with the known phenomenon of release from what oppresses soul, by means of creativity. Goethe and Hemingway and Freud spoke about creativity as release, as a matter of fact, meant it in the reasonings on sublimation. But whether, on the other hand, it is possible to call the creator of any examinee if he transfers the memoirs to paper? Whether it will be exempted from them how the writer is released, embodying what oppresses it at images and plots? Besides you should not fall into the known delusion and to identify the writer with his heroes, and motives of his works can not have nothing in common with events of his life, and originate only in imagination of the writer. Nevertheless, many psychologists consider that release from burdensome memoirs by return to them, judgments and records - too some kind of creativity, at least - sincere work and the experience demanding efforts.

Psychologists established also that even people nervous, burdened with various cares and misfortunes, inclined to always complain about destiny, to be irritated in each occasion and to expect all the worst, the bodies which are constantly complaining of pains in all parts, on weakness, dizziness and other painful phenomena, are at the doctor not more often than their cheerful peers, and die not earlier than optimists. In other words, even deep pessimism - neither behavioural, nor protective, nor constructive, namely deep and comprehensive pessimism does not damage health at all.

The German philosopher Schopenhauer who not without the bases believed that the suffering is a source of great causes because udesyateryat forces and forces to be inventive was a pessimist. Napoleon`s phrase which he said when it was asked in what the main secret of its strategy is known to all: It is necessary, without deliberating, to be got involved in fight, and there it will be visible . This principle is professed by most of strategic optimists. But we will remember: this principle was good at Marengo, at Austerlitsa, but it was unusable near Moscow, Leipzig and Waterloo.

Perhaps, approach of the American psychologists and revision of their positions concerning a role of optimism and mental health of the nation is connected with broad practice of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in the USA and need to look for new ways of impact on patients. Besides events on September 11 last year significantly shook the soil for impetuous optimism of Americans and forced many to doubt reliability and safety of the world surrounding them. For the American psychologists there were new tasks and new opportunities to check the conclusions about a role of optimism and pessimism in preservation of mental and physical health.