Why Positive Psychology?
According to positive psychologists, for most of its life mainstream psychology (sometimes also referred as ‘psychology as usual’ has been concerned with the negative aspects of human life. There have been Pockets of interest in topics such as creativity, optimism and wisdom, but they have not been united behind any grand theory or a broad, overarching framework. This rather negative state of affairs was not the original intention of the first psychologists, but came about through a historical accident. Before the Second World War, psychology had three tasks:cure illness, to improve normal lives and nurture high talent.
However, after the War the last two tasks somehow got lost, leaving the field to concentrate predominantly on the first one (Seligman & Csikszenrmihalyi, 2000). How did that happen? Given that psychology as a science depends heavily on the funding of governmental bodies, it is not hard to assume what happened to the resources after the War. Understandably, facing a human crisis on such an enormous scale, all available resources were poured into learning about, and the treatment of, psychological illness and psychopathology. The costs of adopting this disease model included the negative view of psychologists as ‘victimologists’ and ‘pathologizers’, the failure to address the improvement of normal lives and the identiftcation and. nurturance of high talent.
The Western world has long outgrown the rationale for an exclusively disease model of psychology. Perhaps now is the time to redress the balance by using psychology resources to learn about normal and flourishing lives, rather than lives that are in need of help.
Perhaps now is the time to gather knowledge about strengths and talents, high achievement (in every sense of this word), the best ways and means of self-improvement, fulfilling work and relationships, and a great art of ordinary living carried out in every comer of the planet. This is the rationale behind the creation of positive psychology.