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The Coddling of the American Mind

How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure
Narrated by: Jonathan Haidt
Length: 10 hrs and 6 mins
5 out of 5 stars (80 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

A timely investigation into the new "safety culture" on campus and the dangers it poses to free speech, mental health, education, and ultimately democracy

The generation now coming of age has been taught three Great Untruths: their feelings are always right; they should avoid pain and discomfort; and they should look for faults in others and not themselves. These three Great Untruths are part of a larger philosophy that sees young people as fragile creatures who must be protected and supervised by adults. But despite the good intentions of the adults who impart them, the Great Untruths are harming kids by teaching them the opposite of ancient wisdom and the opposite of modern psychological findings on grit, growth, and antifragility.  

The result is rising rates of depression and anxiety, along with endless stories of college campuses torn apart by moralistic divisions and mutual recriminations.   

This is a book about how we got here. First Amendment expert Greg Lukianoff and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt take us on a tour of the social trends stretching back to the 1980s that have produced the confusion and conflict on campus today, including the loss of unsupervised play time and the birth of social media, all during a time of rising political polarization.    

This is a book about how to fix the mess. The culture of “safety” and its intolerance of opposing viewpoints has left many young people anxious and unprepared for adult life, with devastating consequences for them, for their parents, for the companies that will soon hire them, and for a democracy that is already pushed to the brink of violence over its growing political divisions. Lukianoff and Haidt offer a comprehensive set of reforms that will strengthen young people and institutions, allowing us all to reap the benefits of diversity, including viewpoint diversity.    

This is a book for anyone who is confused by what’s happening on college campuses today, or has children, or is concerned about the growing inability of Americans to live and work and cooperate across party lines.

©2018 Greg Lukianoff (P)2018 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

“Our behavior in society is not immune to the power of rational scientific analysis. Through that lens, prepare yourself for a candid look at the softening of America, and what we can do about it.” (Neil deGrasse Tyson, director, Hayden Planetarium, and author of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry)

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Two of today's great minds at work.

Every teacher, professor, parent, government worker, public intellectual, and preferably person should have this book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Backed Up by Solid Data #Audible1

Important read for so many people. This needs to be "woke"! Authors are very effective communicators and have lots of data to backup their claims. #Audible1

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A must read for all parents with teenage kids

Extremely well researched book. The authors really have their fingers on the pulse of what is going on with youth and university campuses today. I wish they released this book 2 years ago.

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couldnt finish. blech

not good. wish i could have taken advantage of the refund.
couldn't finish it. wont finish it

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Stop Coddling Children. Grow Some Balls.

very good insight into how universities and societies are not letting children and students grow into critical thinkers. the solution..Understand its a battle of good versus evil.

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Insights are outstanding

I wasn't aware of Jonathan Haidt until this year. I heard him having a discussion with another author about his book, and decided to give it a go based on the comments the other author made. I am so glad I took the opportunity to listen to this audio book. It is well presented, the material is engaging and insightful, and it will forever change the way I look at parenting my own children. It illuminates the current problems facing society, but offers solutions and hope for the future.

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  • DD
  • 2018-11-23

Should be required reading for every parent.

Jonathan Haight seems like a reasonable person. I feel like, if I were to meet him, we could dialogue about tough topics without it getting out of hand. He’s got some solid ideas in the book about how to correct some parenting mistakes that have led to serious societal unhappiness.

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A must read for academaia

This is an absolutely must read for everyone, especially in academia and parents. Definitely a voice of reason in this age. While many may question CBT as a tool but at very least it calls for divestment of emotions from reason and outlines dangers of safetyism

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A must read for any teacher, professor or parent

The road to bell is paved with good intention. The more we try to protect our children from getting hurt the more we leave them to be destroyed by the real world. We refuse to allow them to fail or succeed in their own and this leads to a written with heightened risk of depression, self harm, and suicide. Children's psyche like trees in the wind, muscles in the body, and our ammune system must be given experience with challange in order to strengthen and grow. Of course we want to protect today's children from everything but we must look at the hidden costs of our actions.

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Excellent book!

I now have a deeper understanding (and sympathy) for these so called SJWs & NPCs whereas before, I had a strong dislike for them. Haidt & Lukianoff not only mentions the possible causes of this craze but more importantly many great solutions. I will highly recommend this book to my friends but also to those who are still undecided about getting this book.

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  • Lee Gilner
  • FL
  • 2018-09-22

Enrich Understanding

As a Hockey Coach for the Past 12 years, I have experienced changes with kids of all ages. Bluntly put, the change is NEGATIVE. Kid's ages 5 - through College who I coach and interact with are having more and more trouble with dealing with adversity and that is simply because of the safety nets at every turn of their lives. Moreover, athletes in general tend to be more successful in life because of the life skills learn through sport which directly correlate to the books crucial concepts that help people develop and evolve as thoughtful individuals with comprehensive thought processes. I think every coach, parents and students in HS/College should read this book. Break the cycle of fearing failure. Fail and fail often and continue learning from your experiences to develop yourself and your mind.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Darrel Bishop
  • 2018-09-06

A Triumph.

An excellent description and history of the current social trends (outrage culture, safe spaces etc.) that have become pedestrian on US university campuses. The two authors have a tone that is clear and informative and a concern for the truth of the matters they bring forth. This book is not an attempt to tickle the ears of anyone of any political persuasion but is directed to everyone who has a stake in seeing our country succeed in the statements of our founding documents.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • R. Marq
  • Washington, DC
  • 2018-09-28

Great follow up to a great article

I read the article of this in The Atlantic and thought it was great without noticing the authors. I later hear John Haidt on a podcast with Sam Harris talking about this and immediately downloaded it. No regrets. It’s just as good if not better than the article. Very balanced and super insightful. Great for understanding a large part of what’s going on in American politics and great for any parents raising the next generation.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2018-09-21

Read it to make you think!

I found "The Righteous Mind" by Dr. Haidt inspiring, thought and provoking, particularly with his insights as to how morality could be shaped by evolution and genetics to make us a highly social species. "The Coddling of the American Mind" is quite a different book that is more disturbing insofar as it addresses the more sinister aspects of our social nature and how three false truths have crept into the academic environment to support stifling discourse through protest and intimidation. Having been a freshman at UC Berkeley in 1964 during the Free Speech Movement, I have stood in disbelief in what has happened more recently on campuses and elsewhere to mock and suppress this critical value. After listening to "The Coddling of the American Mind," I went back to listen to "Fantasyland" by Kurt Anderson. This book provides an historical perspective on the development of magical thinking in America from the religious zealots who settled America through the 1960's "do you own thing" generation to the present time. His premise is that from our founding as a nation, we, the people, have embraced "anything goes relativism" and "if I think it is true, no matter how or why, then it is true." So the current issues of on campus dogmatism, intimidation, and witch hunts may simply reflect the genetics of our nation, passed from generation to generation and parsed into communities, subcultures and tribes to serve our social coherence.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-09-26

Oh so needed of a book by teachers and students alike

I recently graduated from an American university. I first hand experienced the three untruths this book outlines, I saw the pendulum swing voraciously towards safetyism.

The Coddling is a well researched book coming at an important time. Teachers in college and below as well as students in college and below should read this book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • JB
  • Columbus, OH United States
  • 2018-09-25

superb book.

I really loved the insights in this book. Not Conservative or Liberal, just honest. Both sides will be uncomfortable and both will have moments to cheer. If you read the whole book you can't help but be impressed.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Kevin C. Stuart
  • Statesboro, GA, USA
  • 2018-09-22

thought-provoking work

I think this book really tries to understand the phenomena occurring among college-age kids in the past five to ten years. I don't know if this is a complete picture of the forces causing the things we've all seen on the news, but it feels complete. I think the authors did a fair job of balancing the legitimate concerns of the kids described in this book with the very real issues those kids find so concerning.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Philomath
  • 2018-09-07

The consequences of overprotection

“Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child” this book is a gem, and should be required reading for all parents, specially those that have the means to provide everything for their children.

Sometimes we think we are protecting our children when in actual fact we are hindering them by not preparing them for the world. Children are by nature resilient “anti-fragile”. This book is about letting strengthening their capabilities by providing a challenging environment where they learn to accept to fend for themselves intellectually when they are right, and understand that they can also be wrong.

There are different point of views that have merit and require a voices and most of all listening ears. The views of the author are the antithesis of the us verses them toxic mentality that has plagued our society through the filtering bubbles of social media, where opposing views are not only not tolerated but heckled creating an environment of hate and dividing people.

Our children are our future. We should expose them to the other side, so that maybe they don’t make the mistakes that we too commonly do, the intolerance of an objector, the unchallenged righteousness of our beliefs. We are right they are wrong, we are good they are evil.

A great book, supported by facts and good evidence. Highly recommended.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Frank
  • Mill Cree, Washington
  • 2018-09-16

Helped me have compassion

This book helped me understand and have more compassion for young people who I previously dismissed as unhinged snowflakes. It helped me understand why they're engaging in illiberal behaviors. Perhaps I can now engage them productively, instead of using mockery and derision.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Wayne
  • Matthews, NC
  • 2018-09-08

Ambitious and worthwhile social psychology book

The three great untruths: (1) That which does not kill us makes us weaker. (2) Trust your feelings. (3) Life is a battle between good people and evil people.

I listened to The Coddling of the American Mind because I'm a fan of the work of the two authors. Social Psychologist Jonathan Haidt released The Righteous Mind in 2012. It is easily the best social psychology book I have ever read. The subtitle promise, Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, is fully delivered in The Righteous Mind. Greg Lukianoff in the founder and current leader of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). FIRE is a very effective organization that takes on cases of individuals who have suffered abusive punishments by universities. In 2015 Haidt and Lukianoff wrote a very long article in The Atlantic magazine with the same title as this book. The book expands the article dramatically by delving further into both the definition of the issues and recommendations for solutions.

I rate The Coddling of the American Mind only 3 stars because it seems to me that some of the recommendations lack adequate scientific basis, specifically for its over-dependence on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)and its questionable redefinition of igen (Internet generation or Generation Z). But make no mistake; I strongly recommend The Coddling of the American Mind although I consider it a work in progress. My comment about the authors' use of CBT should not be taken as a criticism of CBT itself. CBT is the gold standard of modern psychotherapy.

My Audible library now consists of approximately 2500 books, 90% fiction mostly of the mystery/thriller genre, and I have now written 2160 reviews. I've decided to stop reviewing all books I listen to choosing instead to write only occasional reviews. However, as I have done for several years I continue to follow Audible listener Shelley's reviews for recommendations of novels of my favorite fiction genre.

32 of 45 people found this review helpful