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Negatively Oriented Therapy Takes Its Place

Negatively Oriented Therapy Takes Its Place“Misery loves company and our company loves misery.”

— I.M. Kidding, NOT founder

“Hatred cannot coexist with loving-kindness, and dissipates if supplanted with thoughts based on loving-kindness.”
— The Dhammapada

In a recent issue of the Journal of Positive Psychology researchers Michael Cohn and Barbara Fredrickson were able to demonstrate the sustainability of positive experiences with subjects who had engaged in loving kindness meditation (LKM). This is the first time researchers from the field of positive psychology have demonstrated that an intervention designed to enhance subjects’ well-being produced sustainable results. Prior to this the positivity of any specific intervention was notable, but its enduring effects were unknown. The researchers were able to show that subjects who used a LKM were able to have more positive experiences (PEs) and that these experiences were sustained for an extended period of time.

In this particular study the effects were measured more than a year after the original introduction of the practice of a LKM. Loving-kindness is the first of a series of meditations that produce four qualities of love: Friendliness, Compassion, Appreciative Joy and Equanimity. The practice begins by developing a loving acceptance of whom you are, and can be thought of as a form of self-therapy.

In other words, this proves that if you engage in the practices of positive psychology, in this case Loving Kindness Meditation, you are not only likely to feel better initially, you likely will continue to have significant positive value in your life.

Negatively Oriented Therapy, NOT, hates this kind of advance in the field of positive psychology. We really do. Good news from them is bad news for us. We don’t like positive psychology and brood over their successes. When they publish something this good we are small-minded and jealous. This gives us the satisfaction of carrying a grudge and keeping our spirits low. But in an unprecedented move we are taking a proactive approach to help spread the sense of misery. Our mission is to sabotage good news and help people languish in a state of helplessness. If we are successful we will not rejoice, but rather find something else to annoy us. Our successes are our failures.

NOT proposes that such empirically validated progress be counteracted with the identification and promotion of new negative feelings. In the rapidly expanding field of positive psychology, the evidence–based, hard-data, scientific approach needs to be disparaged with shoddily constructed notions and flimsy concepts. Of course dwelling on bad news and ruminating over things outside our control typically keeps us from being enthusiastic about any advances from the positive psychology community. But to keep our spirits and motivation down we want to borrow a concept from the positivists. They promote the notion of “broaden and build” to enhance positive feelings. To keep up, we plan to broaden and build negativity, helplessness, and apathy. Feeling bad about life is an art form we believe in.

Lately the positive psychology scientists are making too good of a stride in their assertions. As a stopgap effort we want to make things up off the top of our heads and hope people will gravitate toward it. Toward this end we declare there are simply not enough negative terms for crummy feelings. The buzzwords of positive psychology — savoring, zest, optimism, and flourishing — are now being used more regularly. New research on the flow experience has bummed us out. We desperately need something to give equal acknowledgment to the evolution of negative feelings. We’ve begun exploring the possibility of a new quasi-miserable feeling, and think we may have hit upon something that will do the trick.

Proof Positive


This word seems to be a perfect addition to our endeavor.

The Hiptionary (a dictionary made specifically for slang words) defines “craptastic” as something so extraordinarily bad it is comical. While we certainly don’t wish to introduce merriment into our negatively oriented therapy, we thought something the positives might smirk at and find comical might chip away at their enthusiasm.

Here’s how we recommend you use “craptastic” in your daily vocabulary.

Question: How did it feel to come back from the Bahamas to ice and snow on the roads?
Answer: Craptastic.

Question: You sound like you are coming down with a cold and you look miserable. How do you feel?
Answer: Craptastic.

Question: Guess what? The people from IRS are at the door.
Answer: Craptastic.

You can also mumble or say it to yourself. Here is an example when you may want to say it under your breath. At the coffee shop they give you a coffee and you go over to the station and put in your milk and sugar. You think you have the lid on but when you go to take a sip the coffee spills all over you. What do you say to yourself?

You guessed it.

But more is needed if we are to keep up with the power of loving kindness meditation. The worst part about this type of meditation is that it can be brought into the streets and spread as you walk around with others. We are open to suggestions for new negative feelings.

The researchers from the Journal of Positive Psychology article also found that it wasn’t just LKM that helped people sustain their positive feelings. It was actually any form of meditation. In fact they also noted that the original LKM experience may have “… given people additional energy, optimism, or willingness to experiment…” More bad news for us here at NOT. It just isn’t fair that these people keep finding more evidence to help people change the way they think, and improve the way they feel.

How do we feel about it?


Negatively Oriented Therapy Takes Its Place

Daniel Tomasulo, Ph.D.

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

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APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Negatively Oriented Therapy Takes Its Place. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 3 Feb 2011)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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