American psychologist. (Journal file).
Positive psychology: An introduction
Vol. 55 (1), 5-14
The authors of this article introduce a modern trend in the field of psychology, which is positive psychology. The purpose of this review is to summarize the tenets put forth in the article and to note the role that Christian psychologists may play in this new trend in the psychology field. Positive psychology is a response to the majority of models that overemphasize pathology. In addition, positive psychology is also a response to humanistic approaches that focused on the positive aspects of humans, yet did not amass much of an empirically-based approach to the treatment of individuals.
In their discussion of their vision for positive psychology, many points of interest were cited as necessary for the journey into the next century. Among these interests were hope, wisdom, creativity, future mindedness, courage, spirituality, responsibility, and perseverance. One of the major thrusts of this article is to make a bold point: "... psychologists have scant knowledge of what makes life worth living" (p. 5). Although religion is included in a group of endeavors that does not answer the above question in a satisfactory manner, there are many important concepts in positive psychology that are similar to Biblical concepts. These concepts are collective wellbeing versus selfishness, love, perseverance, forgiveness, and wisdom. Further, the authors note a need to foster strengths when working with families, communities, and religious institutions. So, while it seems there is no room for discussions of faith and theology in positive psychology, there is indeed room for Christian psychologists to posit s ound faithful concepts that add to the strength of humankind as intended by the Creator.
Another major focus of the article is to stress the need for scientific research that supports the strength-based hypotheses of human nature. Research on the prevention of mental illness shows the importance of courage, optimism, hope, faith, among other strengths, which act as a discourager of mental illness. If, indeed, this is agreed upon, certainly Christian psychologists can offer contribution to the discussion of positive, strength-based characteristics, which can be quite healthy and helpful for individuals.