Martin Seligman The Hope Circuit

Martin Seligman The Hope Circuit

Martin Seligman The Hope Circuit: One of the most influential living psychologists looks at the history of his life and discipline, and paints a much brighter future for everyone.Martin Seligman The Hope Circuit

When Martin E. P. Seligman first encountered psychology in the 1960s, the field was devoted to eliminating misery: it was the science of how past trauma creates present symptoms. Today, thanks in large part to Seligman's Positive Psychology movement, it is ever more focused not on what cripples life, but on what makes life worth living--with profound consequences for our mental health.

Martin Seligman The Hope Circuit

In this wise and eloquent memoir, spanning the most transformative years in the history of modern psychology, Seligman recounts how he learned to study optimism--including a life-changing conversation with his five-year-old daughter. He tells the human stories behind some of his major findings, like CAVE, an analytical tool that predicts election outcomes (with shocking accuracy) based on the language used in campaign speeches, the international spread of Positive Education, the launch of the US Army's huge resilience program, and the canonical studies that birthed the theory of learned helplessness--which he now reveals was incorrect. And he writes at length for the first time about his own battles with depression at a young age.

Martin Seligman The Hope Circuit

Martin Seligman The Hope Circuit: Deeply Personal

In The Hope Circuit, Seligman makes a compelling and deeply personal case for the importance of virtues like hope, gratitude, and wisdom for our mental health. You will walk away from this book not just educated but deeply enriched.

Martin Seligman The Hope Circuit

Martin Seligman The Hope Circuit Amazon Customer Reviews


Dan Coughlin

April 14, 2018

Since 2002 I have read five of Martin Seligman's books: Authentic Happiness, Flourish, Learned Optimism, What You Can Change, and What You Can't, and now The Hope Circuit.

The first four books were tremendous. I loved them. They impacted my thinking enormously. I found so many practical ways to effectively guide my thoughts and emotions to improve performance in so many different situations. They've almost become so engrained in me that I often forget where I first learned the ideas.

However, The Hope Circuit is at a much higher level. This is a tour de force. It explains in a tremendously personal way the development of psychology, and several mentions of psychiatry and philosophy as well and even astronomy with the stories about Carl Sagan, over the past 50-70 years.

Martin Seligman The Hope Circuit shows how behaviorism gave way to the importance of cognition and cognitive therapy and the work of Tim Beck and evolved into Positive Psychology and eventually to the Hope Circuit over a period of 50 - 70 years. All of this psychological history is explained through personal stories about the interactions between Seligman and his mentors, peers, and students. This book reminds me of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Not only did Seligman interact with many of the key psychological people in history, he also made history himself with his work on learned helplessness and then learned optimism, and ultimately with the development of Positive Psychology.

However, there is one other completely unique aspect of this book that I loved. Marty Seligman opens up in very intimate ways about his personal life. For example, he talks about his own intensity and impatience in his late 20s and early 30s and how it affected his relationships with family and friends. I found his story to be remarkably down to earth and relatable.

This is most definitely NOT a book on the theories of psychology. It is a very real and heartfelt story of how tremendously important principles of psychology emerged over the decades from real people working hard to uncover the underlying truths. He doesn't sugarcoat any of his stories. He explains exactly how he saw things unfold from his perspective. For example, his story about how the teachings of psychiatry were greatly influenced by which ideas members of the U.S. Congress were willing to financially support.

This book is like the autobiography of a great athlete, except this is a story about a person who spent his life working to understand how the mind works. I can't imagine you not getting value out of reading this book. I savored it and underlined almost every word on every page. It also reminds me of The Hero's Journey that Joseph Campbell wrote about. Seligman spent decades searching for powerful insights through a wide range of obstacles and many moments of challenging the status quo, and then he brings what he discovered back to large masses of people to help them not only reduce suffering but to find ways to sustain optimism and joy in their lives.

39 people found this helpful
Becky Brotemarkle, PhD, RN, PCC, NBC-HWC, CMC

April 23, 2018

I pre-ordered this book and eagerly awaited its arrival - I have read Marty Seligman's other books and followed his work for almost 40 years - so of course, I wanted to read the latest. But, I had no idea that in its own way, it would also be the greatest of his books. It is an honest and down-to-earth story of a man's life (so far - because I am sure there is more to come) with all of the struggles and all of the joys that he experienced over the years. Not only is it his story, but also the story of Positive Psychology and it is full of the important concepts and principles he has brought to light during his life.

Martin Seligman The Hope Circuit, this book was especially meaningful for me because I first found Marty's work after I had left an abusive relationship and started asking myself "Why did I stay so long?" I found the Theory of Learned Helplessness which showed me that it wasn't my fault but rather the circumstances that kept me trapped.

I eventually became stronger and as I read Marty's other books could see how I had also grown past helplessness into optimism, happiness , and flourishing as I became a nurse, a teacher and obtained my PhD at 57 which had been a lifelong goal. And I looked back and realized that what helped me escape the helplessness, was lying in bed at night and reciting all the things I could do well until I believed in myself and I believed there might be a way out. I now see myself as a living example of Marty's work and really am grateful for what he has put together so beautifully in this book.

And one last coincidence that I believe is not a coincidence: a couple of years ago I began a coach training program, MentorCoach LLC, that has very strong connections to Marty since he and the training program's founder, Ben Dean, started an Authentic Happiness program together.

I highly recommend the book as a good read with a great story line about a man that is real (I couldn't put it down), a source of important information about Positive Psychology (the history and highlights), and a future of possibilities and hope.

17 people found this helpful
Daniel S. Bowling, III

November 2, 2018

Martin Seligman The Hope Circuit: The reviews of Dr. Martin Seligman's newest book, The Hope Circuit, have largely gotten it wrong. They regard it a memoir and review it as such. Yes, on one level it is it is a memoir, one of a fascinating life lived amidst tectonic shifts in the field of psychology and psychiatry. The problems with memoirs are they are valedictory by definition. This is a forward-looking work. Far greater than just an individual's recollections of a life well lived, it makes the compelling argument that the human race is hot-wired for hope.

Seligman doesn't merely make such a claim and move on. He patiently explains in language laymen can understand (although he instructs the reader at some technical junctures to re-read preceding paragraphs to aid in comprehension) that humans are driven by framing possibilities about the future, not haunted by memories or past events. Those who can successfully frame the future in positive and hopeful terms enjoy the greatest happiness and outcomes in life. This is an incredibly powerful message: hope is not just Pollyannaish wishful thinking, but a function that is critical for well being (I strongly recommend Homo Prospectus: Oxford Press for those interested in a deeper dive into the science and theories behind this claim).

Martin Seligman The Hope Circuit, this is a fine book, deep, thoughtful and eminently readable. Seligman is a wonderful essayist, one who can make a psychology text read like a thriller. However, some reviews of the book are negative, reflective of the fact Seligman has long attracted a number of enemies throughout his career, private and public. Some of Seligman's critics are fair to the extent they challenge the science (this is how science moves forward, Seligman notes) and not the person. Most are not.

The criticisms come from different sources. Some are from entrenched academic mandarins, jealous of the funding dollars shifting away from the disease model of psychology that Seligman describes in passages of the book; others are left-wing polemicists like Barbara Ehrenreich who somehow view positive psychology, the field Seligman "founded," as a stalking horse for religious or social conservatism.

Some are annoyed by his first person narrative style, where he places himself at the center of a revolution in psychology (ignoring the inconvenient fact that he actually was. I find the personal anecdotes among the best parts of The Hope Circuit). Others criticisms, including those accusing Seligman of aiding and abetting torture by the U.S. military after 9/11, border on libelous. Seligman addresses the criticisms, fairly and without acrimony in a chapter of the book (and a bit mildly in my opinion; I will save my deconstruction of their errors and biases in an article to come).

Strongly recommend The Hope Circuit for anyone interested in the history of psychology or the life of one of its giants. I also recommend it to anyone interested in living life better and with more hope. Martin Seligman The Hope Circuit.

2 people found this helpful