A darks side of gratitude? Distinguishing between beneficial gratitude and its harmful impostors for the positive clinical psychology of gratitude and well-being

Alex M. Wood, Robert A. Emmons, Sara B. Algoe, Jeffrey J. Froh, Nathanial M. Lambert, Philip Watkins

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This chapter attempts to clarify when and where gratitude is apparently negative, with the aim of building a more balanced study of gratitude within psychology. It discusses the positive clinical psychology (PCP), which aims to transform the discipline into one where the understanding and fostering the positive is given equal attention as understanding and reducing the negative. The author aims to extend this approach to gratitude through clarifying the distinctions between the beneficial form of gratitude and its harmful imposter. A harmful gratitude may occur within a context of an objectively abusive relationship, with the victim feeling what they experience as gratitude to the abuser. From a pure philosophical viewpoint, Smilansky describes the nonidentity problem, how gratitude for being alive necessitates gratitude for the whole chain of events that lead to one's existence. The chapter use Aristotle's wider conceptualization of virtue and apply it to contemporary conceptions of gratitude.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Wiley handbook of positive clinical psychology
PublisherWiley-Blackwell
Chapter10
Pages137-151
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781118468197
ISBN (Print)9781118468241
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Aristotle
  • Beneficial gratitude
  • Harmful gratitude
  • Nonidentity problem
  • Positive clinical psychology
  • Smilansky

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