Cover image for The coddling of the American mind : how good intentions and bad ideas are setting up a generation for failure / Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt.
Title:
The coddling of the American mind : how good intentions and bad ideas are setting up a generation for failure / Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt.
ISBN:
9780735224896
Publication Information:
New York : Penguin Press, 2018.

©2018
Physical Description:
338 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Contents:
Introduction: The search for wisdom -- Part I. Three bad ideas. The untruth of fragility : what doesn't kill you makes you weaker ; The untruth of emotional reasoning : always trust your feelings ; The untruth of us versus them : life is a battle between good people and evil people -- Part II. Bad ideas in action. Intimidation and violence ; Witch hunts -- Part III. How did we get here?. The polarization cycle ; Anxiety and depression ; Paranoid parenting ; The decline of play ; The bureaucracy of safetyism ; The quest for justice -- Part IV. Wising up. Wiser kids ; Wiser universities ; Wiser societies -- Appendix 1: How to do CBT ; Appendix 2: The Chicago Statement on Principles of Free Expression.
Abstract:
"Something has been going wrong on many college campuses in the last few years. Speakers are shouted down. Students and professors say they are walking on eggshells and are afraid to speak honestly. Rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide are rising--on campus as well as nationally. How did this happen? First Amendment expert Greg Lukianoff and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt show how the new problems on campus have their origins in three terrible ideas that have become increasingly woven into American childhood and education: What doesn't kill you makes you weaker; Always trust your feelings; and Life is a battle between good people and evil people. These three Great Untruths contradict basic psychological principles about well-being and ancient wisdom from many cultures. Embracing these untruths--and the resulting culture of safetyism--interferes with young people's social, emotional, and intellectual development. It makes it harder for them to become autonomous adults who are able to navigate the bumpy road of life. Lukianoff and Haidt investigate the many social trends that have intersected to promote the spread of these untruths. They explore changes in childhood such as the rise of fearful parenting, the decline of unsupervised, child-directed play, and the new world of social media that has engulfed teenagers in the last decade. They examine changes on campus, including the corporatization of universities and the emergence of new ideas about identity and justice. They situate the conflicts on campus within the context of America's rapidly rising political polarization and dysfunction. This is a book for anyone who is confused by what is happening on college campuses today, or has children, or is concerned about the growing inability of Americans to live, work, and cooperate across party lines."--Dust jacket.
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Summary

Summary

The New York Times bestseller!

Something has been going wrong on many college campuses in the last few years. Speakers are shouted down. Students and professors say they are walking on eggshells and are afraid to speak honestly. Rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide are rising--on campus as well as nationally. How did this happen?

First Amendment expert Greg Lukianoff and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt show how the new problems on campus have their origins in three terrible ideas that have become increasingly woven into American childhood and education: What doesn't kill you makes you weaker ; always trust your feelings ; and life is a battle between good people and evil people . These three Great Untruths contradict basic psychological principles about well-being and ancient wisdom from many cultures. Embracing these untruths--and the resulting culture of safetyism--interferes with young people's social, emotional, and intellectual development. It makes it harder for them to become autonomous adults who are able to navigate the bumpy road of life.

Lukianoff and Haidt investigate the many social trends that have intersected to promote the spread of these untruths. They explore changes in childhood such as the rise of fearful parenting, the decline of unsupervised, child-directed play, and the new world of social media that has engulfed teenagers in the last decade. They examine changes on campus, including the corporatization of universities and the emergence of new ideas about identity and justice. They situate the conflicts on campus within the context of America's rapidly rising political polarization and dysfunction.

This is a book for anyone who is confused by what is happening on college campuses today, or has children, or is concerned about the growing inability of Americans to live, work, and cooperate across party lines.


Author Notes

Greg Lukianoff is the president and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Lukianoff is a graduate of American University and Stanford Law School. He specializes in free speech and First Amendment issues in higher education. He is the author of Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate and Freedom From Speech .

Jonathan Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University's Stern School of Business. He obtained his Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992, and then taught at the University of Virginia for 16 years. He is the author of The Righteous Mind and The Happiness Hypothesis .


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this expansion of their 2015 piece for the Atlantic, Lukianoff and Haidt argue that the urge to insulate oneself against offensive ideas has had deleterious consequences, making students less resilient, more prone to undesirable "emotional reasoning," less capable of engaging critically with others' viewpoints, and more likely to cultivate an "us-versus-them" mentality. They identify the cause in a growing obsession with protecting college students, rooted in the cult of "safetyism"-the idea that all adverse experiences, from falling out of a tree as a child to experiencing a racial microaggression as a college sophomore, are equally dangerous and should be avoided entirely. They condemn these attitudes as likely to foment anguish and leave students ill-prepared for postcollege life, and they endorse the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy as a better approach. At times, the authors' limited perspectives become apparent-for instance, their dismissal of microaggressions as simple misunderstandings that should be corrected with good grace is naïve and lacking in compassion, and their use of exaggerated hypothetical dialogues to illustrate the worldviews of those with whom they disagree can seem in bad faith. Yet the path they advocate-take on challenges, cultivate resilience, and try to reflect rather than responding based solely on initial emotional responses-deserves consideration. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


New York Review of Books Review

THE SPLINTERING OF THE AMERICAN MIND: Identity Politics, Inequality, and Community on Today's College Campuses, by William Egginton. (Bloomsbury, $28.) Egginton, a professor at Johns Hopkins, regards the often militant discourse around identity with sympathy and concern. THE CODDLING OF THE AMERICAN MIND: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt. (Penguin Press, $28.) Expanding on their influential Atlantic article, the authors trace the culture of "safetyism" on campus to a generation convinced of its own fragility, warning of potentially dire consequences for democracy. IDENTITY: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, by Francis Fukuyama. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) In a sympathetic analysis of identity politics, Fukuyama argues that the sense of being dismissed, rather than material interest, is the current locomotive of human affairs. THE LIES THAT BIND: Rethinking Identity: Creed, Country, Color, Class, Culture, by Kwame Anthony Appiah. (Liveright, $27.95.) Appiah, a cosmopolitan by background and choice, says that we tend to think of ourselves as part of monolithic tribes up against other tribes, whereas we each contain multitudes. ARTHUR ASHE: A Life, by Raymond Arsenault. (Simon & Schuster, $37.50.) This first major biography of the great tennis champion, written by a civil rights historian, shows that Ashe's activism was as important as his athletic skill. He belongs on the Mount Rushmore of elite sports figures who changed America. DEAD GIRLS: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession, by Alice Bolin. (Morrow/HarperCollins, paper, $15.99.) Bolin's stylish and inspired collection centers on the figure - ubiquitous in police procedurals from "Twin Peaks" to "True Detective" - of the "dead girl," a character who represents a dominant American fantasy, inciting desire and rage in equal measure. THIS MOURNABLE BODY, by Tsitsi Dangarembga. (Graywolf, paper, $16.) In this accomplished sequel to "Nervous Conditions," her prize winning debut of 30 years ago, Dangarembga, a Zimbabwean author and filmmaker, finds her indomitable heroine, Tambu, single, middle-aged and unemployed but unbowed. NOTES FROM THE FOG: Stories, by Ben Marcus. (Knopf, $26.95.) In his latest collection, the ever inventive Marcus delivers taut, bleak, dystopian stories that are disturbing and outlandish yet somehow eminently plausible. MARWAN'S JOURNEY, by Patricia de Arias. Illustrated by Laura Borras. (MinEdition, $17.99; ages 5 to 7.) This sensitive, beautifully illustrated tale of a boy's journey across a desert, away from his war-torn homeland, ends with safety and dreams of return. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books


Library Journal Review

First Amendment expert Lukianoff and social psychologist Haidt argue that child-centered social attitudes dating back to the 1980s have convinced young people that their feelings are always right, and this leads not just to failure (as the subtitle has it) but free speech issues on campus and the rising polarization in politics. Bound to stir up talk.


Table of Contents

Introduction The Search for Wisdomp. 1
Part I Three Bad Ideas
Chapter 1 The Untruth of Fragility: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Weakerp. 19
Chapter 2 The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning: Always Trust Your Feelingsp. 33
Chapter 3 The Untruth of Us Versus Them: Life Is a Battle Between Good People and Evil Peoplep. 53
Part II Bad Ideas in Action
Chapter 4 Intimidation and Violencep. 81
Chapter 5 Witch Huntsp. 99
Part III How Did We Get Here?
Chapter 6 The Polarization Cyclep. 125
Chapter 7 Anxiety and Depressionp. 143
Chapter 8 Paranoid Parentingp. 163
Chapter 9 The Decline of Playp. 181
Chapter 10 The Bureaucracy of Safetyismp. 195
Chapter 11 The Quest for Justicep. 213
Part IV Wising Up
Chapter 12 Wiser Kidsp. 235
Chapter 13 Wiser Universitiesp. 253
Conclusion: Wiser Societiesp. 263
Acknowledgmentsp. 271
Appendix 1 How to Do CBTp. 275
Appendix 2 The Chicago Statement on Principles of Free Expressionp. 279
Notesp. 283
Referencesp. 321
Indexp. 329