The Cure for Toxic Positivity

‘Hang in there!’ can do more harm than good

Rebecca Renner
Forge

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Photo: Picture Alliance/Getty Images

WWhen my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 52, I was flooded with emails, calls, and in-person pep talks from friends and acquaintances. Anyone who’d ever met me, it seemed, was eager to offer up a platitude. “Think positive,” they told me. “It will be okay. He’ll get through this.”

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Rebecca Renner
Forge

Journalist and fiction writer. Bylines: the Atlantic, the Washington Post, Paris Review, Tin House, The Guardian, National Geographic, etc.