Be Happy! JSU's Positive PsychologyCourse to Tell How
O'Briant is positively happy about life.
By Sherry Kughn
JSU News Bureau
A new course that examines several old topics will be taught this fall in
JSU’s Department of Psychology. Professor Steven Bitgood and instructor Roxana Conroy will each teach one section of the course.
The course is called "Positive Psychology," which integrates ideas about examining the characteristics of people and communities
that produce intellectual and emotional satisfaction. Among the topics are "improve self-control" and “the good life,” a term used
to describe a life filled with happiness and satisfaction.
The field of positive psychology was reintroduced as recently as 1996 by Martin Seligman, former president of the American
Psychological Association. Seligman argued that psychology had sold out to the medical model which views psychological problems
as illness. Instead of emphasizing the negative, positive psychology examines what is positive about the human condition.
“The course will be hands on,” said Ms. Conroy. “We’ll talk about the benefits of exercise, relaxation, yoga, and aromatherapy.”
Dr. Bitgood said the theories of positive psychology include exploring the benefits of positive activities and exploring the impact
of positive thought on one’s mental health. He added to Ms. Conroy’s list the importance of meditation and a positive environment.
“Part of the course will be self analysis -- what makes you uptight and how to approach that in effective ways,” said Dr. Bitgood.
Both teachers plan to work together to coordinate their students’ activities.
Positive psychology contrasts with what has happened in the field of mental health throughout the last few decades. More emphasis
has been placed on mental illness and treatments in the past, according to Dr. Bitgood, and less emphasis on the aspect of mental
Neither Dr. Bitgood nor Ms. Conroy ignores the environmental or biological disposition that some people have toward clinical
depression or other mental illnesses. Modern life is full of dangers and risks, said Dr. Bitgood, but everyday life during
modern times is actually more stable than in past times.
The Internet has many interesting articles and websites about the positive psychology movement. For more
information visit these websites: www.positivepsychology.net, and www.apa.org/apags/profdev/pospsyc.html.
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