The Wellness Syndrome

“Ehrenreich had a series of questions about Seligman’s book Authentic Happiness (‘which I had found just as elusive as he was turning out to be’). She was particularly interested in the happiness equation, which she describes as ‘one of the most irritatingly pseudoscientific assertions in his book’. The equation — H = S + C + V — describes how one’s enduring level of happiness (H) is determined by three factors: (S) your set range; (C) circumstances; and (V) things that you can change. In other words, happiness is determined by the person you are, and the circumstances you have — some of which are more amenable to change than others. Suspicious of the scientific basis of the equation, Ehrenreich asked, ‘What are the units of measurements?’ Seligman reluctantly explained that, ‘C is going to decompose into twenty different things, like religion and marriage.’ Although Ehrenreich tried to tease out a more elaborate and coherent explanation from him, she could not get one. ‘But clearly Seligman wanted an equation,’ Ehrenreich sums up in her reflections, ‘because equations add a veneer of science.’”
(pages 23-24)

Subject headings associated with the quotation

1. Seligman, Martin E.P., 1942. Authentic happiness. 2. Ehrenreich, Barbara. Smile or die. 3. Positive psychology. 4. Well-being.

Bibliographic Description

Cederström, Carl, 1980- author
Text (visual) : unmediated
The Wellness Syndrome / Carl Cederström and André Spicer. – Cambridge : Polity, 2015.
163 pages ; 22 cm.
First published in 2015 by Polity Press. – Reprinted 2015 (twice).
ISBN 9780745655611
I. Spicer, André, author

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