Positive Emotion, Optimism and Illness

In a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry (Vaillant, 2003) and financed by the National Institute of Mental Health, six different empirical approaches to mental health that were deemed particularly deserving of attention were reviewed. The review included positive psychology and the opinions of its most representative exponent, M. E. P. Seligman. Seligman’s inclusion recognized the great attention he has given to the conscientious and impartial study of positive psychology and to the constructive use of experimentation, in the best tradition of the scientific method of inquiry (Achinstein, 2004). The importance of positive emotions and optimism, among other important positive psychology concepts, are indicative of the empirically validated evolution that has taken place within the broader theory of cognitive psychology in the last thirty years (Bandura, 2001; Beck, Freeman, & Davis, 2004; Lazarus, 1993; Masters, 1981).