The Happiness Industry: How Corporations Want to Manage Your Mind

Yves here. I gather Corporate America has decided they prefer trying to get consumers to manage their moods, rather than do things that actually do promote happiness…namely, greatly lowering inequality. Plus the idea that we can or should have only positive emotions is a weird American fetish. Major religions, whether overtly or by stealth, have as a major role enabling people to cope with suffering and loss. Moreover, negative emotions, like anger and anxiety, can be major spurs for action if channeled well.

Excerpted from the book The Happiness Industry by William Davies (Verso, 2016). Originally published at Alternet

Since the World Economic Forum (WEF) was founded in 1971, its annual meeting in Davos has served as a useful indicator of the global economic zeitgeist. These conferences, which last a few days in late January, bring together corporate executives, senior politicians, representatives of NGOs and a sprinkling of concerned celebrities to address the main issues confronting the global economy and the decision-makers tasked with looking after it.

In the 1970s, when the WEF was still known as the ‘European Management Forum’, its main concern was slumping productivity growth in Europe. In the 1980s, it became preoccupied with market deregulation. In the 1990s, innovation and the internet came to the fore, and by the early 2000s, with the global economy humming, it began to admit a range of more ‘social’ concerns, alongside the obvious post-9/11 security anxiety. For the five years after the banking meltdown of 2008, Davos meetings were primarily concerned with how to get the old show back on the road.

At the 2014 meeting, rubbing shoulders with the billionaires, pop stars and presidents was a less likely attendee: a Buddhist monk. Every morning, before the conference proceedings began, delegates had the opportunity to meditate with the monk and learn relaxation techniques. ‘You are not the slave of your thoughts’, the man in red and yellow robes, clutching an iPad, informed his audience. ‘One way is to just gaze at them . . . like a shepherd sitting above a meadow watching the sheep’. A few hundred thoughts of stock portfolios and illicit gifts for secretaries back home most likely meandered their way across the mental pastures of his audience.

True to their competitive business principles, the Davos organizers had not just gone for any monk. This was a truly elite monk, a French former biologist named Matthieu Ricard, a minor celebrity in his own right, who acts as French translator to the Dalai Lama and gives TED Talks on the topic of happiness. This is a subject he is uniquely qualified to speak on, thanks to his reputation as the ‘happiest man in the world’. For a number of years, Ricard participated in a neuroscientific study at the University of Wisconsin, to try and understand how different levels of happiness are inscribed and visible in the brain. Requiring 256 sensors to be attached to the head for three hours at a time, these studies typically place the research subject on a scale between miserable (+0.3) and ecstatic (-0.3). Ricard scored a -0.45. The researchers had never encountered anything like it. Today, Ricard keeps a copy of the neuroscientists’ score chart on his laptop, with his name proudly displayed as the happiest.

Ricard’s presence at the 2014 Davos meeting was indicative of a more general shift in emphasis from previous years. The forum was awash with talk of ‘mindfulness’, a relaxation technique formed out of a combination of positive psychology, Buddhism, cognitive behavioural therapy and neuroscience. In total, twenty-five sessions at the 2014 conference focused on questions related to wellness, in a mental and physical sense, more than double the number of 2008.

Sessions such as ‘Rewiring the Brain’ introduced attendees to the latest techniques through which the functioning of the brain could be improved. ‘Health Is Wealth’ explored the ways in which greater well-being could be converted into a more familiar form of capital. Given the unique opportunity of having so many of the world’s senior decision-makers in one place, it is no surprise that this was also the scene of considerable marketing displays, by companies selling devices, apps and advice aimed at supporting more ‘mindful’ and less stressful lifestyles.

So far so mindful. But the conference went further than just talk. Every delegate was given a gadget which attached to the body, providing constant updates to the wearer’s smartphone to assess the health of his recent activity. If the wearer is not walking enough, or sleeping enough, this evaluation is relayed back to the user. Davos attendees were able to glean new insights into their lifestyles and wellness. Beyond that, they were getting a glimpse of a future in which all behaviour is assessable in terms of its impact upon mind and body. Forms of knowledge that could traditionally be accrued only within a specialized institution, such as a laboratory or hospital, would be collected as individuals wandered around Davos for the four days of the conference.

This is what now preoccupies our global elites. Happiness, in its various guises, is no longer some pleasant add-on to the more important business of making money, or some new age concern for those with enough time to sit around baking their own bread. As a measurable, visible, improvable entity, it has now penetrated the citadel of global economic management. If the World Economic Forum is any guide, and it has always tended to be in the past, the future of successful capitalism depends on our ability to combat stress, misery and illness, and put relaxation, happiness and wellness in their place. Techniques, measures and technologies are now available to achieve this, and they are permeating the workplace, the high street, the home and the human body.

This agenda extends well beyond the reaches of Swiss mountaintops and has in truth been gradually seducing policy-makers and managers for some years. A number of official statistical agencies around the world, including those of the United States, Britain, France and Australia, now publish regular reports on levels of ‘national well-being’. Individual cities, such as Santa Monica, California, have invested in their own localized versions of this. The positive psychology movement disseminates techniques and slogans through which people might improve their happiness in everyday life, often by learning to block out unhelpful thoughts and memories. The idea that some of these methods might be added to the curriculum of schools, so as to train children in happiness, has already been trialled.

A growing number of corporations employ ‘chief happiness officers’, while Google has an in-house ‘jolly good fellow’ to spread mindfulness and empathy. Specialist happiness consultants advise employers on how to cheer up their employees, the unemployed on how to restore their enthusiasm to work, and – in one case in London – those being forcibly displaced from their homes on how to move on emotionally.

Science is advancing rapidly in support of this agenda. Neuroscientists identify how happiness and unhappiness are physically inscribed in the brain, as the researchers in Wisconsin did with Matthieu Ricard, and seek out neural explanations for why singing and greenery seem to improve our mental well-being. They claim to have found the precise parts of the brain which generate positive and negative emotions, including an area that provokes ‘bliss’ when stimulated, and a ‘pain dimmer switch’. Innovation within the experimental ‘quantified self ’ movement sees individuals carrying out personalized ‘mood tracking’, through diaries and smartphone apps. As the statistical evidence in this area accumulates, so the field of ‘happiness economics’ grows to take advantage of all this new data, building up a careful picture of which regions, lifestyles, forms of employment or types of consumption generate the greatest mental well-being.

Our hopes are being strategically channelled into this quest for happiness, in an objective, measurable, administered sense. Questions of mood, which were once deemed ‘subjective ’, are now answered using objective data. At the same time, this science of well-being has become tangled up with economic and medical expertise. As happiness studies become more interdisciplinary, claims about minds, brains, bodies and economic activity morph into one another, without much attention to the philosophical problems involved. A single index of general human optimization looms into view. What is clear is that those with the technologies to produce the facts of happiness are in positions of considerable influence, and that the powerful are being seduced further by the promises of those technologies.

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  1. Norb

    It seems we are reaching a point in history where angry people are the only truly sane individuals. How to direct that anger indeed.

    As more social institutions are gutted and fall apart, the elite are showing themselves to be the ultimate cowards. From their elevated height of authority they show little to no leadership except to offer distraction and illusion as a means to cope with rising social problems.

    Our elite are playing with matches in a dried out forest, and will cry the loudest when they finally succeed in touching off a blaze.

    1. Ulysses

      “As more social institutions are gutted and fall apart, the elite are showing themselves to be the ultimate cowards. From their elevated height of authority they show little to no leadership except to offer distraction and illusion as a means to cope with rising social problems.”


      More and more, I am convinced that the easiest way to interpret the thinking of our sociopathic elites is through dystopian visions like those of Kafka, Orwell, and Huxley. Where those of us with normal human empathy would shudder in horror, our sociopathic elites are saying to themselves: “yeah, that could work!”

      1. Norb

        I am also convinced of the power of art- science fiction writing- film and computer graphics- to provide the alternative visions, leading to a productive future. We desperately need a new form of storytelling.

        I recently learned of a play to be made based on the 2006 shooting of 10 Amish schoolchildren and the response by the Amish community. It was a response of forgiveness. It is a thought so foreign to contemporary corporate culture that would blow peoples minds to the possibility. Added to that, the Amish community survived the attack and grew stronger as a result.

        Put that into contrast with our current multi-billion dollar effort to “combat” every social shock and one is left with the desire to weep. In our current efforts, we are left weaker as a people, not stronger. It is only the elites who can’t see it.

  2. James Miller

    Happiness is intimately and complexly tied up in a veritable web of influences. Social, chemical, sexual, nutritional, and many more. Good thing, too.
    All these influences are not “noise” at all, but valuable, even crucial guidance signals in the universal effort to direct our lives in positive ways. Hard experience has long shown that chemical attempts to create happiness have nasty side effects. Even if that were really possible, *to break that link with external reality by technological wizardry is to deprive us of a solid footing for even decision making on what to eat, let alone on issues of ethics or morality.
    Perhaps I can see why the author found such interest in techno-happiness at Davos.

  3. John Merryman

    A comment based on thinking about yesterday’s water cooler link to the ethics of self driving cars;

    I think our real problem with AI isn’t that computers will be smarter than us, but they reduce our need to think and as the old saying goes about all aptitudes, “Use it, or lose it.” Some would argue it will free us up to think about more important matters, but as civil society shows, a disengaged executive function does not end well. Just as automation is putting many people out of work, what will happen as it encroaches on say, as the article goes into, our need to make ethical decisions?

    I have to say I’m not totally against trying to manipulate happiness, because eventually people will come to realize one of the best ways to enable a broader sense of well-being would be a more efficient and less clogged up economic circulation system. Resulting in blowback to those simply wishing to harvest value out of the rest of society. We can’t store value in the financial system, so much as circulate it. Circulation is dynamic and wealth is static. In your body, blood circulates, while fat stores. See the problem?

    1. Norb

      Until we figure out as a society how to distribute the essential goods and services needed to support life, equitably for all, we are chasing phantoms. A twisted value system prevents humanity form moving forward- or surviving in place for that matter.

      We need a better definition of abundance and scarcity. Yes, we have limited resources on this planet if everyone alive is conditioned to want their own personal jet or mansion. It is a system of belief headed for a hard fall. Harnessing the efficiency and power of technology to supply the needs for all is the mental leap that needs to be made. With technology as it stands, we either figure out how to provide for all, or we will surely all perish.

      1. Active Listener

        “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.” – R.E.M.

        (A citation to “Happy Worker” by Tori Amos would also be relevant here, but I prefer to keep it brief.)

        1. meeps

          Yes! Also Goldfrapp’s, Happiness, from Seventh Tree (:

          I learned Vipassana meditation some years back. The technique is simple:

          Observe the outbreath, notice thoughts (and any value judgments about them), label thoughts as ‘thinking’ and return attention to the outbreath.

          There’s value in learning to focus when the mind wanders, which it does. That’s how humans are hardwired. Noticing the breath can help with relaxation, too. I’ve asked crying children to pay attention to their breath and watched them instantly take it down a peg.

          That said, happiness, like any other state of being, is momentary. It’s possible to use meditation to seek happiness by pushing away life’s unpleasantries. People are already good at that for obvious reasons. Having grown up in the U.S., I do think there’s an added layer of cultural bias toward ‘positivity’ that discourages ‘negative’ emotions. That sets up the conditions for supression.

          As for the elite crowd, maybe the monks can hold up a gazing mirror. Will Davos Man see a frail human being, equal to any other, or will he attack his own reflection?

  4. Disturbed Voter

    Utilitarianism isn’t how people behave. One must not confuse prescription with depiction. Society behaves with brutal exploitation. It isn’t the greatest happiness for the greatest number, but for the fewest number. So the Elites are always on a knife edge, they fear to go to sleep, just like when they owned Southern plantations. Their slaves might make sure they never wake up. This is why the Elite must always hate the exploited, in any economic system. The Elite must treat the average person like Hell in order to get into or stay in the Elite. The price is blowback. So yes, better slaving technology to control blowback would help them superficially, but it doesn’t get rid of the slavery. The wage and debt slavery of today, is merely the more sophisticated version of chattel slavery of the past. You can never fix things by only dealing with symptoms.

    1. John Merryman

      Yes, but revolutions do occur, when the energies pushing up become greater than the forces and forms pushing down. As sentient beings, we can only manage the relationship between form and energy, because it is far more elemental than we are.
      Given the financial circulation system is the current tool of control, it will get the most attention and that is what the powers that be really wouldn’t want happening. They are cooking their own goose.
      Government used to be private, aka monarchy, but now it is a public utility. Next is banking.

    2. Light a Candle

      Some societies behave with brutal exploitation. Worst example: western capitalism.

      Other societies do not and did not. They were/are cooperative, supportive and lived sustainably. Many indigenous cultures were absolutely astounded by the Europeans’ greed and lack of ethics.

      Reminds me of a favourite story. The Englishman said to the Pacific Islander, “Get a job! work as hard as you can, for as long as you can. Send your kids to school in England for a good education so they can know the right people and get good jobs. Then, if you’re lucky, you can retire, buy a vacation property here and fish.” The Pacific Islander knows he’s being lectured by a crazy person.

      I think as humans we are also hardwired to behave cooperatively. Otherwise we would never survive.

  5. Steve H.

    From Alkon, ‘Memories Voice.’:

    “I was drawn to the psychological effects of trauma partly because of my own early experience. Not a victim myself, I was, however, indirectly victimized. As a child, I witnessed repeated trauma to a young girl I will call Michelle. Michelle, whose story unfolds in the course of this book, was beaten frequently from the age of eight or nine until she was thirteen or fourteen.

    “As she adopted strategies to cope, Michelle followed an anatomical path to torment. An assault on her senses was integrated and processed within her brain, determining behavioral outcomes. Working backwards along this path from behavior to sensing, she began by desperately casting about for a behavior that worked. Failing, she resorted to manipulating her own integrative processes. And with no choice left, she altered her sensing capacity itself. There are in each of these strategies the hallmarks of distinct syndromes of mental illness spanning the scale of severity from neurosis to psychosis.”

    Point being, to avoid unhappiness Michelle retreated from the reality of the external world. Reductio ad absurdum, automated neuroengineering leads to the world of the Matrix. As RGH Siu wrote, “Ends achieved are nothing more than means expressed.”

    Having your baseline extrema being a monk who proudly displays his laptop indicates perverse parameters.

  6. OIFVet

    The US military is not wasting time with handholding. It is going directly for implantable chips to manage emotional responses to combat. No more PTSD, no more emotional barriers to the act of murder. The new normal in the future will consist of a bunch of happy sociopaths. What a freakin’ nightmare…

  7. V. Arnold

    My goodness; I can’t stand perpetually optimistic or “happy” people; lost to reality IMO.
    I live a somewhat hermetic life, not in the U.S. (Asia).
    I also avoid the MSM like the plague.
    I keep my own council; always have done…
    U.S. citizens get pretty much what they ask for; which isn’t very damn much the last decade and a half. Where’s the fight?

    1. hemeantwell

      Sigmund Freud was bunk but inspired the ‘happiness’-driven world of today.

      Freud never dropped the guiding idea of “where id was, ego shall be.” That’s not about being happy, it’s about escaping nominally habitual actions that reflect “solutions” to problems formed under the constraints of childhood, including the limits to understanding imposed by a physiologically immature brain.

      Mateen’s solution to what, according to media speculation, sounds like conflicts over homoerotic impulses, if not a homosexual identity as such, is a good example of an infantile solution: omnipotent destruction. Any relevant psychotherapy, including psychoanalysis, would not be oriented to his “happiness” but rather reducing conflict over his sexuality. Greater happiness would likely be an outcome, but the focus would be on understanding the nature of his urges and his violent reactions to them.

      Bunk? If you read the post you’ll notice a tendency to interpret states of consciousness in terms of brain physiology and neurochemistry. To me, that is the theoretical tendency we should be very wary of, in as much as it will lead to a severance of any connection between happiness and social relations, both internal and external. The analogy is a bit of a stretch, but what Mateen accomplished with firearms will be accomplished with meds and implants.

      1. Lambert Strether

        The Freud quote: “I do not doubt that it would be easier for fate to take away your suffering than it would for me. But you will see for yourself that much has been gained if we succeed in turning your hysterical misery into common unhappiness.”

        But not with implants, please!

    2. Softie

      “Sigmund Freud was bunk but inspired the ‘happiness’-driven world of today.”

      “For Freud, on the other hand, it is the hope of a life without conflict that ails us. Along with every serious philosophy and religion, Freud accepted that humans are sickly animals. Where he was original was in also accepting that the human sickness has no cure.”

      — John Gray, The Silence of Animals

  8. Softie

    “Happiness was never important. The problem is that we don’t know what we really want. What makes us happy is not to get what we want. But to dream about it. Happiness is for opportunists. So I think that the only life of deep satisfaction is a life of eternal struggle, especially struggle with oneself. We all remember Gordon Gekko, the role played by Michael Douglas in Wall Street. What he says, breakfast is for wimps, or if you need a friend buy yourself a dog, I think we should say something similar about happiness. If you want to remain happy, just remain stupid. Authentic masters are never happy; happiness is a category of slaves. ”

    – Slavoj Zizek

    1. jrs

      All so many fancy rationalizations for what is likely partly one’s genetic tendencies to pessimism or optimism. It likely isn’t a choice to be optimistic or to be pessimistic. And it’s not necessarily any better to pretend bleakness and pessimism is some choice one makes as to pretend anyone could just choose to be much happier if they wanted.

      But of course society (and capitalism etc.) is also messed up and doesn’t make finding any measure of contentment, such as one’s temperament allows, any easier. It makes it much harder of course.

  9. flora

    per Yves: “I gather Corporate America has decided they prefer trying to get consumers to manage their moods, ”

    Pity Corporate America. Since the 1950s they have worked to convince us that we’re a “consumer society” . They encouraged us to buy lots of stuff, even stuff we don’t need. The ads claimed that was the key to the good life and happiness. Corporate America referred to us as “consumers”, and even got pols to start referring to us as “consumers” instead of “citizens.” The more we bought the more corporations manufactured and the more their profits rose. The more corporations manufactured in the US,the more jobs their were and the more disposable income to buy stuff. And this went on until the corporations decided to stop manufacturing in the US and offshore work, eliminating millions and millions of US jobs. But eliminating all those jobs also destroyed a lot of disposable income and the “consumer society”. Too many people are now broke or near broke. People seem, uh, not happy. Odd. Poor corporations, what will they do now?
    Thanks for this post.

  10. Jagger

    Anybody remember George Orwell’s Burmese Days. SPOILERs: The primary Burmese villain was a Burmese bureaucrat and was of course a Buddhist. He strongly believed in Karma and reincarnation. He understood that bad karma could be neutralized by good karma. So his plan was to commit any and all deeds as necessary to achieve wealth, status and happiness in this life regardless of the accumulation of bad karma necessary to achieve his goals. But then at the end of his life, he would commit one good and great act of good karma to cancel out all the bad karma. He would build a temple to Buddhu. And he did just that. He was ruthless, cruel and dedicated to the destruction of anyone and anything that obstructed his success. He was successful beyond his wildest dreams and then as an old man, he became deathly ill and decided it was time to build his temple. Unfortunately, his illness removed his ability to speak and give the command to build the temple. So as he lay dying, he knew his greatest terror, to be reborn as a frog, was inevitable due to his inability to cancel out his bad karma.

    The story of the bureaucrat is a side story within Burmese days but still interesting. From time to time, I have looked at Buddhism out of curiosity. I am no expert but it appears the concept of Karma is pretty simple. Negative actions produce bad karma and and negative consequences to the individual at some point in existence, don’t forget reincarnation, and the reverse for good karma. The opinion on whether good and bad karma actually cancel each other out seems to depend on the individual. This concept seems ideal for neoliberal capitalists. Do as you please but just don’t forget to do some great good deed by the end of your life to cancel out all the bad deeds. I wonder if Bill Gates is a Buddhist?

    PS: I am sure I have simplified the karma concept considerably and possibly misinterpreted it as I am not a Buddhist. Any experts out there can correct me.

    1. Dirk77

      I am no expert either. However, I think Karma is merely your next incarnation will be such that it will enable you to best learn lessons left unlearned in your present life. In that Orwell story then, since the protagonist has learned nothing, his end of life “good deed” counts for nothing.

    2. Softie

      It’s almost the same as what repent can do for a sinner in the west. Just like a wealthy sinner who wanted to redeem his sins by buying the indulgences peddled by the Church, the wealthy guy in the story wanted to build a temple so that he could get rid of his fate. Karma or no karma, it’s the same shit designed for organized crimes.

      1. Lord Koos

        Yep just like the dying Mafia chief who on his deathbed gets the local cardinal to absolve his sins…

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      Which is, of course, identical to the orthodox Christian belief that confessing all one’s sins on one’s deathbed and receiving absolution ensures one’s entry to heaven. The catch, in my observation, is that the Elites truly believe they’re doing nothing wrong, because they’ve bought into their own myth they’re where they are because of some virtue or other that, clearly, those less endowed lack. They are all, in other words, afflicted with systemic narcissism, wherein anything they do that causes harm isn’t their fault but someone else’s.

    4. knowbuddhau

      I’m no expert, but I do practice Zen. So I’m sure in the type of Buddhism you’ve looked at, karma is understood as you’ve characterized it, which is in fact the popular understanding. But there is no one single dogmatic interpretation shared by all Buddhists. We have no pope, no Vatican, no councils to decide things that must be believed by all.

      Personally, I don’t like the popular understanding, especially as it relates to reincarnation. It rests on the mistaken belief in a separately existing self that persists as such life after life. And it’s too reminiscent of sin, where all the concern is for one’s separately existing soul (by any other name). What’s the difference between what that bureaucrat intended and just buying an indulgence?

      In fact, there are no separately existing things in nature. Everything there is shares being with everything else; it’s interdependent, we say. It’s only an optical illusion that makes it appear that “things” have clear cut and absolute boundaries. Gases, electromagnetic radiation, all kinds of things are crossing these boundaries all the time. The universe would’ve flown apart long ago if those kinds of boundaries actually existed.

      Look at a simple cell. Specifically, look at the membrane. It’s not an absolute barrier, it’s a semi-permeable bridge, right? So’s your skin. So, exactly and precisely now, where do you stop, and where does the environment begin? Obviously, it’s a social convention.

      Of course, most people really do believe in themselves only as separately existing things. It’s thought that one person’s karma is not another’s. But that’s not possible. Bill Gates’s karma, which literally means his “actions” or “doings,” is our karma, in that his sequestration of wealth is our deprivation.

      “An injury to one is an injury to All.”

      Or as the Beatles put it,

      I am he
      As you are me
      And we are all together

      1. Softie

        Zen is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese character of Chan that is the first syllable of Sanskrit meditation. You mean practice meditation?

      2. SpringTexan

        Thanks. Or as Sanders has expressed, “that all of us are connected, all of life is connected, and that we are all tied together.” Jane Sanders expressed that that’s not only human beings either, but nature and animals. This, I believe.

        I absolutely hate any religion that makes death or the moment of death the most important part of life. Fear-mongering and negativity, in my book.

        But I’ll buy that Bill Gates’ karma is ours too and that “I am he As you ar me And we are all together.”

  11. sumiDreamer

    People forget why Anonymous went to abolish Scientology in their first instance out.

    The Scientologists control this “happiness” agenda. They push “wellness” not because they care.

    They had a confab about what to do with all that lovely money Diana Hubbard (and her close close friends) had accumulated – and decided to find a monopoly they could harness. “Natural healing” had no discernable cabal in control. Look at how far they’ve taken it! (Their other big fat bonanza is temp agencies for the precariat, where they can get all sorts of information on a person.)

    Pass the superduper valerian! Consume our brand of superfoods! Take an electronic test! Stay self absorbed! Read Health Ranger! Yeah, that will do it!

  12. PrairieRose

    Is anyone else creeped out by the fact that Happiness can now be measured and catalogued and the data sent to . . . wherEVER?? So for instance there could be a Red Alert sent out when your Happiness Quotient falls below a certain point, whereupon it’s reported to some Health Care/Mindfulness Guru, who is then dispatched to come see you to Make. You. Happy. Or. Else.

    1. casino implosion

      Or, as the Dead Kennedys presciently sung in about 1981, “…it’s the Suede Denim Secret Police/ They’ve come for your uncool niece…”

  13. casino implosion

    Hm. I think that to truly obtain pleasure from domineering over others and keeping them in their proper place, one needs to know that they are suffering and resentful. A world full of blissed out, relaxed footmen, gofers, gals friday, gardeners and maids of all work…nah. They’d fail to give that respect tinged with fear that is the reward of achieving a position of power.

    1. jrs

      You have a point there, there does seem a real sadistic (not just greedy) streak to the ruling class …

  14. junez

    Only yesterday, Counterpunch had an article entitled, “Has Feminism Been Co-opted by Capitalism?” The corporate world excels at taking advantage of the creativity and goals of others for their own corrupted purposes. This doesn’t diminish the importance of feminism or happiness. Psychologists like Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow studied people’s needs toward helping us all flourish, not for controlling us. We should fight against corporate interpretations rather than throwing out the ideas.

  15. ewmayer

    In the soon-to-be-ending CBS show Person of Interest, the amoral one of the two rival AIs, the one bent on subjugating humanity, uses precisely the kinds of psyops described here to identify people vulnerable to various kinds of “sales pitches”, just some ending in assassin-for-hire-ness rather than happy-go-shopping-ness.

  16. Ted

    Hmmm … but the hokum about happiness being “in the brain” (preumably the part of the nervous system that ends at the base of the skull — but not the part connected to any of the sense organs also located in the skull) and can be seen and measured using fMRI goes without comment and placed on a 6 unit scale!! (I prefer 11 units personally). Interesting. Well have fun storming the castle on this one.

  17. Larry Y

    In Buddhist (Buddhish?) circles there’s the idea of “McMindfulness”, as a coping mechanism for the stress, suffering, etc. neo-liberalism puts on people.

    More optimistically, maybe the practices will lead to people concluding what they’re doing is bullshit, and act to deal with craving/greed, aversion, and ignorance/delusion.

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