Chapter 1-Introduction: The Not-So-Dismal Science?

Near the turn of the twentieth century, a high priest became a heretic. After a lifetime spent pioneering the nascent discipline of psychology, the eminent Harvard professor William James asked a dangerous question that began turning his field upside down. Psychology’s quest, he ventured, might just be larger than merely curing mental illness. What if the average person—even if mentally healthy—were only living up to a small fraction of his or her potential?

Like a big bang, James’s question ignited a great paradigm shift. Every discipline is founded on what American historian and philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn famously called a paradigm: a shared set of assumptions and frameworks. Fast ...

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