55 pages 1 hour read

Greg Lukianoff, Jonathan Haidt

The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2018

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The Three Great Untruths

These days, three beliefs seem to have an overarching effect on the minds of students: “What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker,” “Always trust your feelings,” and “Life is a battle between good people and evil people.” Authors Haidt and Lukianoff believe these three concepts are forms of cognitive distortion, such as overgeneralizing, emotional reasoning, and black-and-white thinking, and that they cause students to become overly anxious, depressed, and fearful that disagreements and controversies are threats to their safety.

Parents, in an effort to shield their children from danger, teach them to be cautious at all times. Monitored closely, kids don’t have much experience dealing with the real world outside their cloistered homes and schools. They begin to see themselves as fragile and unable to cope with new or threatening experiences. Thus, they tend to believe that unpleasant experiences will damage them, which “makes you weaker.” On the contrary, child development research strongly suggests that young people are “antifragile” and will learn and grow from the small misfortunes of everyday life.

In an excess of caution, children are taught to “trust your feelings,” particularly fears, so that they might avoid any risks. This causes them to shy away from experiences and adventures that might teach them important lessons about how to navigate successfully through life.