The UnHappy Hero Part 1: An Absurd Story

I sit down this morning to begin writing my Friday essay. I notice there is a lot of talk about happiness psychology or positive psychology these days. Positive Psychology, a kind of clinical and supplemental psychology pioneered by Martin E. P. Seligman, Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center, focuses on psychological interventions that are supposed to increase individual happiness.

This notion that applies a therapy to the status of a qualitative state suggests in a causal way that the happiness happening to people as a result of these interventions can be measured, evaluated and further controlled. Happiness, not a subtle organ of the psyche like other psychological terms such as ego and shadow and anima imply, nonetheless acquires psychological status; albeit something abstract and metaphysically invisible and not a thing at all, happiness suddenly has ‘thing-ness.’ Happiness or bliss, as Joseph Campbell liked to call it, is no longer solely a qualitative perception of an emotional, fluid and energetic state or mood according to this viewpoint.


by Stephanie Pope

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