BOOK REVIEW: Love yourself enough to not read “The Hope Circuit”

The Hope Circuit by Martin Seligman is like reading a Wikipedia article about someone accomplished enough to have their own entry but not so much they can resist editing it themself.

Also, that article continues for 400 pages.

Subtitled A Psychologist’s Journey from Helplessness to Optimism, surely it’s the amount of unpleasant reading that makes the experience most unpleasant, but to be fair, Seligman — or “Marty” as he’d prefer his coed undergrad students call him — also establishes himself as an unlikable person very quickly. That is a truly remarkable accomplishment for a memoir where he controlled the entire narrative and reached me as a blank slate with no prior knowledge about his life.

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Torture is awful and we should never do it — unless we have to

It might have been more topical to write a column about the swine/Mexican/North American/H1N1 flu, but I’m sick of it. At this point, the panic seems to be more virulent than the virus, but then again, overreactions can only exist in retrospect.

That’s as close to a segue as I think I can manage, so I’ll just go with it. Some people are now looking back on the anti-terrorism policies and actions of 2001 and 2002 as excessive at best and literally criminal at worst, and at the center of all of it is the supposed torture of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, and elsewhere.

Justifiably, it’s a very contentious and complicated issue, even when discussed civilly and with intellectual honesty. Mutually exclusive good principles sometimes butt heads, and this is unavoidable. Most of the time, the conversation is cast to make the opposing views look evil or ridiculous, but this isn’t helpful.

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