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The Happiness Industry by William Davies review – why capitalism has turned us into narcissists

There is no doubt that what everybody wants is happiness. The only problem is what being happy consists in, an issue that moral thinkers have never been able to agree on and probably never will. Is happiness a purely subjective feeling, or can it be somehow measured? Can you be happy without knowing it? Can you only be happy without knowing it? Could someone be thoroughly miserable yet be convinced they were in ecstasy?

In our own time, the concept of happiness has moved from the private sphere to the public one. As William Davies reports in this fascinating study, a growing number of corporations employ chief happiness officers, while Google has a “jolly good fellow” to keep the company’s spirits up. Maybe the Bank of England should consider hiring a jester. Specialist happiness consultants advise those who have been forcibly displaced from their homes on how to move on emotionally. Two years ago, British Airways trialled a “happiness blanket”, which turns from red to blue as the passenger becomes more relaxed so that your level of contentment is visible to the flight attendants. A new drug, Wellbutrin, promises to alleviate major depressive symptoms occurring after the loss of a loved one. It is supposed to work so effectively that the American Psychiatric Association has ruled that to be unhappy for more than two weeks after the death of another human being can be considered a mental illness. Bereavement is a risk to one’s psychological wellbeing.

Despre Claudiu Degeratu
Expert in securitate nationala, internationala, NATO, UE, aparare si studii strategice

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