It sounds like a chapter out of a textbook on positive psychology. As advice goes, it feels simple-minded. Yet, if you follow it you will reduce your stress and better deal with challenging situations.
The advice: read more good news and less bad news. Neutral news counts as good news.
Reading bad news is bad for you. The more you become conscious of what has and can go wrong the more you will see signs of pending danger. The more you see pending danger the more you will gear up your mind to avoid it. Gearing up your mind to avoid danger takes you out of the real world and into a fantasy world.
This has recently been demonstrated by a study undertaken at the Center for the Study of Human Stress in Montreal. It was reported by the Los Angeles Times.
In addition, the study found that women react more negatively to bad news than men do. Women also tend to remember bad news longer than men do.
One cannot even pretend to be surprised by these results. Since women are more physically more vulnerable than men they naturally have a vested interest in being more attuned to pending threats.
Most interesting for me is that these findings stand in such direct contradiction to Freud’s theories. They demonstrate that Freud’s theories have nothing to do with human psychology.
When Freud first studied of young female hysterics he posited that they had become neurotic because they had a special propensity for forgetting traumas.
He continued to theorize that the forgotten events remained present in their unconscious minds and expressed themselves through symptoms.
Thus, Freud believed that he could solve these women’s problems by inducing them to recollect their repressed traumas and to integrate them into a coherent life narrative.
In later versions of his theory Freud suggested that it was more important to resurrect repressed fantasies and desires.
None of these were good news. They were all bad news.
For Freud fantasies were more truthful when they were more negative. The Oedipus complex involves incest and patricide: it doesn’t get much more negative.
Freud discovered the Oedipus complex in a play where the main character receives the worst of bad news.
So, Freud thought that people become neurotic when they forget bad news.
The truth: they become dysfunctional when they cannot forget bad news.
Freud thought that women were more apt to forget traumas.
The truth: women are more apt to remember traumas.
The verdict: Freudian psychoanalysis is more likely to produce mental defects than to cure it.
But, you knew that already, didn’t you?