A psychologist challenges the tyranny of optimism by claiming that negative thinking is often a far better way to deal with anxiety than striving to stay positive
Through individual case studies, Norem (psychology, Wellesley Coll.) here demonstrates her case for "defensive pessimism" as an effective tool for managing one's anxiety. For example, by imagining all of the worst-case scenarios, a speaker prepares better for a speech. Norem has developed a questionnaire to help readers determine whether they use defensive pessimism or strategic optimism (believing things will work out for the best) in daily life. She goes further to explain that much of the positive self-concept information preached since the 1980s is unrealistic and illusory. While admitting that defensive pessimism annoys other people, Norem argues that the strategy helps those who are anxious to curb their emotions and get moving toward their goals. Norem has published in Self, Men's Health, the Washington Post, and the New York Times, but her style here more resembles that of an academic journal article. Further, her arguments are not convincing. Of marginal value for academic libraries.-Lisa Wise, Broome Cty. P.L., Binghamton, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.