Saturday, December 19, 2009

Psychology: Think positively - or peel potatoes!

A friend tells me that the US Army's new weapon is "thinking positively":
FACED with rising rates of depression, post traumatic stress disorder, drug abuse and suicide among its war-weary soldiers, the Pentagon has turned to the founder of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, to train its troops in how to lead happier lives.

The aim of the four-year program is to make the US Army ''just as psychologically fit as physically fit'', Professor Seligman told the Herald, as a vanguard of more than 150 sergeants learnt about emotional resilience at his University of Pennsylvania research centre.

Despite their ''grizzled'' tough guy images, sergeants are in the best position to pass on psychological coping skills to soldiers in their command in a bid to prevent mental problems developing.

- Deborah Smith, science editor, "US Army's new weapon is thinking positively," Sydney Morning Herald, November 17, 2009
I do not know what "despite" is doing at the head of the last sentence. I would have thought that an experienced NCO or officer would be a useful resource for a troubled recruit.

I hope this’ll do some good (more than I can say for neuroshopping, and similar idle pursuits).

I am glad they US Army is doing this, but it is not new. Good officers have always helped their subordinates understand how to cope with crises and disasters. A person who cannot do so should not be an officer. He should fly a desk somewhere, where he can annoy people who are NOT risking their lives.

Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.