An Interview with Martin EP Seligman, Ph.D.
作者: 转载 / 5615次阅读 时间: 2009年11月05日
标签: Seligman
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Joshua Freedman

 Josh: The tool that you introduced at the  Nexus EQ Conference is "disputing catastrophic thinking;" what is that?

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Martin: There is a skill that everyone has that  they usually deploy in the wrong place. The  skill is disputing. In learned optimism programs we teach people first to  recognize the catastrophic things they say to themselves. For example, they  might say, "No one is going to like me at this party. I never have fun at  parties." We teach them first to treat it as if it were said by an external  person whose mission in life is to make them miserable. Then to dispute it  in the same way they would an external person. When you say these things to  yourself, you treat them as if they were true. We generally have the skill  of disputing other people when they make false accusations, and we can learn  to do so with ourselves as well. That’s the central skill in both cognitive  therapy and learned optimism training.心理学空间WMX$N*U}

Josh: How young a person can be taught these  skills?

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Martin: We  start at about age 10.

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Josh: Recognizing that there is no quick fix,  what would you advise as a starting point?

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Martin: My  first advice is to make some assessment of whether or not you are a  pessimist. There are a set  of tests which people can take rather easily to decide that. It is not  transparent to yourself. Then, if you are, the nutshell advice is to learn  the disputing skills. 心理学空间s&T} f^2w^S

Josh: Are you an optimist?心理学空间e5PIr#DTU

Martin: I’m a  born pessimist.

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Josh: Have you then taught yourself to be an  optimist?

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Martin: I  think only a pessimist can write and do serious stuff about optimism. The  skills I talk about I use every day. What I’ve become is what I call a  "flexible optimist." I can recognize the situations which call for optimism,  and the situations which don’t call for optimism need a mercilessly  realistic view of what’s going to happen. When I make that separation, if  it’s one of the many situations in which the optimism skills are going to  pay off, then I throw in my whole complement of optimism skills. It makes me  better able to initiate different projects. But when I’m in a situation in  which the cost of failure is very high, then what I want is merciless  realism. In that case I revert to my usual "four in the morning" pessimism.心理学空间l?B4pk&x

Josh: How do you know whether this is a case  for optimism or a time for pessimism?心理学空间D;@ S;f*[+DQTk

Martin: I  ask, "What would it matter if I fail here?" For  example, if I’m a salesman and I’m making another "cold call," or if I see  someone attractive at a party and want to say hello afterwards, the cost of  rejection is small.心理学空间Y"l&I(Jg%Ij1EL/h

When the cost is small, use the optimism  skills. On the other hand, the cost of failure can be very large, such as  getting into an affair which will lead to divorce if your spouse finds out,  or, as a pilot, having another drink at a party before a flight. You really  don’t want optimistic pilots. When the cost of failure is large and  catastrophic, you don’t want to use optimism skills. That’s the basic rule  of thumb.心理学空间TB4O+S9@"as[

Josh: When you look around at the world the  way it is, at the onslaught of negative stories, do you find optimism  difficult?

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Martin: It is  surprising that we have very high levels of depression and pessimism in  a world in which the hands on the nuclear clock are farther away from  midnight than they have ever been, in a nation in which every economic  indicator, every objective indicator of well-being, is going north, in a  world in which there are fewer soldiers dying on the battlefield than any  time since WWII, and in which there is a lower percentage of children dying  of starvation than at any time in human history. It is quite astonishing  that we have enormously high rates of depression and pessimism. We do have a  very important paradox here.

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Josh: I read an interview when you started as  President of the APA in which you said that perhaps a significant part of  the depression epidemic in the US is due to counselors treating people as  ill. Would you explain that perception?

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Martin: I  think that’s one of several changes in our culture that  has gone on for the past 40 years that may be related to continued high  levels of depression. Another is victimology. In general when things go  wrong we now have a culture which supports the belief that this was done to  you by some larger force, as opposed to, you brought it on yourself by your  character or your decisions. The problem about that is it’s a recipe for  passivity and giving up and helplessness. So one of the things that is going  on, I think, is a pervasive victimology.心理学空间G K0@G3k)M j

Josh: What more beneficial approach could  people in the field of mental health use with their patients?心理学空间Md)|["w0u:M

Martin: I  think the other approach is that what you do matters a great deal. That  you are not a passive responder to stimuli. You are an initiator of plans. A  lot of your troubles were brought on by yourself. You are responsible for  them. And the good news in that is it also implies that the way out is not  something that someone is going to bestow on you, it’s something you are  going to do yourself.

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Josh: Does that mean depression is not an  illness, that it’s something else?

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Martin:  Approximately, yes. I  think if we get serious about the notion of illness and disease, then there  are several things we look for. We look for high genetic contribution, known  brain action that produces it, and a treatment of choice that is drugs. In  manic-depression, all three of those things hold, so I think of it as a  bio-med illness. In the case of unipolar depression, the heritability is  minor, a correlation ratio of .2 to .3, the brain activity is mere correlate  not cause, and the drugs of choice work at about the same rate but less  lastingly than the psychotherapies of choice. For the most part, I don’t  think of unipolar depression as a disease.

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Josh: What is it, then?

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Martin: Part  of the human condition. It  has been called a lot of things just as accurately. The mediaeval  theologians called it a sin. Other people have called it loss of morale or  demoralization.心理学空间/nJ VOa2t[

Josh: Do you talk in your work about the idea  of "wellness?"心理学空间T4`3{UN,`+x/di

Martin: I’m  sympathetic with the wellness movement. And  I think their heart was in the right place. There are two problems with it.  One of them is that because it was a fringe movement, it never attracted a  serious empirical base, so it has vegetarians, Buddhists, people who  practice yoga, acupuncturists, holistic medics. But it never attracted much  in the way of empirical science. The second is, I don’t think psychology is  a corner of the health movement in any sense. I think psychology is much  larger than curing mental illness or curing diseases. I think it’s about  bringing out the best in people; it’s about positive institutions; it’s  about strength of character. The wellness movement narrows the domain of  psychology and paints it into a corner. Psychology is much larger than a  corner of the health care system.心理学空间.s,@~ y gw

Josh: Do you have a name for psychology as  part of the general improvement of being human?心理学空间^6t ?b,V8H9NCSq

Martin: Just  psychology. Positive  psychology.

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Josh: Positive psychology includes optimism  and what else?

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Martin: There  are three pillars of positive psychology.

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The first is positive subjective experience  which actually breaks down into three parts: past, present, and future. Past  is well-being, contentment, and satisfaction. Present is happiness, ecstasy,  and the sensual pleasures. And Future is optimism and hope. That’s all one  pillar of positive psychology.心理学空间.P^i.kW(NW"d&?

The second pillar is positive individual  traits or the traits of character that enable one to have a good life in the  Aristotelian sense, not in the California sense; traits such as intimacy,  vocation, wisdom, integrity, aesthetic sense, spirituality, future  mindedness. There are seventeen of them.

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The third pillar is positive institutions,  the kinds of communities, families, schools, and nations that bring out the  best in positive character and bring out the positive subjective experience.

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Josh: And how to we erect those three  pillars?心理学空间1b X _-gF#M z,b+_5U

Martin: Well  we need a science of that  and that is what mostly I am going to devote the rest of my career to.心理学空间*y+Zz0{*a!x]

Josh: So you’ll look at measuring what that  would mean and how to make that happen?心理学空间!h o`9c$v(]o FUl s

Martin: We  would do the same thing that we did with mental illness, to have a  nosology of it, to ask how you measure those things, to look at the causal  skein of it both experimentally and longitudinally, to create interventions  which, in the case of mental illness, break them up and, in the case of  positive psychology, build them. Nosology, measurement, causation, and  intervention is where positive psychology is going.心理学空间;I&WWdGOB

Josh: What are some of your hypotheses as you  begin studying the investigative work in exploring the third pillar?

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Martin: I  think hypotheses is premature. At  this point I think I know the right kind of questions to ask. For instance  in media, why do we like bad news so much? What’s wrong with good news? In  government institutions like Congress, why is negative campaigning so  appealing. In education, what would positive psychology in education look  like? Do we do better in education if we build from strength rather than try  to repair weakness?心理学空间5s.Z2i&lr^/y

Josh: In your work thus far, is there one  piece of research that you would like to see on every bumper sticker, and  chalkboard, and refrigerator door in the country?心理学空间+xQ*VD5OS

Martin: I  think it’s basically that if you are a pessimist in  the sense that when bad things happen you think they are going to last  forever and undermine everything you do, then you are about eight times as  likely to get depressed, you are less likely to succeed at work, your  personal relationships are more likely to break up, and you are likely to  have a shorter and more illness-filled life. That’s the main discovery that  I associate with my lifetime.

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Josh: When I’m talking about learned  optimism, people often ask how to start shifting from pessimism to optimism?心理学空间R U,]q-x$p5u

Martin: I  think the way most people start is to find out the costs of being a  pessimist. As a pessimist,  it’s always wet weather in the soul, they don’t do as well at work, and they  get colds that will last all winter. They find themselves failing in crucial  situations and their relationships go sour very easily. So when people have  those kinds of hurts, if they can find that there is something useful in  positive psychology, that’s where people start.心理学空间6H#F9L2LRj0x)l^s

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