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Spoilt Rotten: The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  362 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Alternate cover edition can be found here.

In this perceptive and witty book, Theodore Dalrymple unmasks the hidden sentimentality that is suffocating public life. Under the multiple guises of raising children well, caring for the underprivileged, assisting the less able and doing good generally, we are achieving quite the opposite for the single purpose of feeling good ab
Hardcover, 260 pages
Published August 19th 2010 by Gibson Square Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Sep 22, 2011 Alistair rated it really liked it
there is nothing like reading a book which reflects all your worst prejudices . if you think that everyone has gone hopelessly touchy feely and publicly emotional and that if a feeling is not expressed publicly is worthless then this book confirms this view .
when your child dies the first thing you should do is write a book , when your mother dies of cancer the first thing you should do is appear on television , when your husband is killed in a car crash the first thing you should do is set up
Mar 18, 2012 Graeme rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Overall Dalrymple comes off as a cold, unfeeling grump of a man, who longs for days of stiff-upper-lip Britain, when the Empire was strong, minorities were actually still in the minority, and women didn't wander far from the kitchen. For better or worse these days are long gone and unlikely to ever come back.
Nov 02, 2015 Felipe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Um dos melhores livros que li em 2015! Dalrymple é de fato um dos maiores ensaístas dos nossos dias!
Dec 02, 2012 Karen rated it it was ok
The basic premise - that our modern society has let 'feeling' dominate the rational - was good and promising. There are a lot of clear examples cited, although I am not sure whether the named individuals would necessarily consent to, or approve of, their (re)actions being rather ridiculed. As one of the people who kept very quiet when Princess Diana was killed and found the public hysteria rather baffling, this should have been a book which I felt supported my own concerns at a society where ...more
Feb 18, 2014 NancyHelen rated it really liked it
Although I don't necessarily agree with Dalrymple's politics, I respect him as a writer and intellectual and there were a lot of points in this book which I fully agreed with. Britain is caught in the throes of the cult of sentimentality - its something which irritates me no end living here. I can't stand the demand to publicly vent all of your emotions and if you don't you are shunned or worse, seen as un-British. It is driven for the most part (in my opinion) by the tabloid media, a point ...more
Kitty Jay
Jan 10, 2015 Kitty Jay rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Unlike his essays, which strike one more as the inner reflections of a widely read, intelligent man, Theodore Dalrymple uses Spoilt Rotten to show off his academic side, which is as refined as his less annotated musings.

Spoilt Rotten connects the fall of civilized behavior and the faults of the current legal system with the rise in sentimental behavior; in this case, not the sweet nostalgia of sentimentalism, but the rampant bad behavior and false outpourings of emotion so revered by reality tel
Mathijs Beaujean
Mar 22, 2012 Mathijs Beaujean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Theodore Dalrymple makes a good argument against the encroaching disease of sentimentality. The book would have gotten five stars, if not for the overly elaborate prose of the author and the highly annoying fact that the notes at the back of the book are actually small stories in themselves (as opposed to the references I had expected). Personally I find it a good custom to put comments like that in the actual text, not put them at the end of the book.

The argument itself is well made and the aut
Kevin K
Jul 24, 2015 Kevin K rated it really liked it
I recently read a paper by Richard Rorty called "Human Rights, Rationality, and Sentimentality" in which he writes:
"...the emergence of the human rights culture seems to owe nothing to increased moral knowledge, and everything to hearing sad and sentimental stories..."
This struck me as a sharp, powerful insight. It got me thinking about sentimentality, and by chance I happened to run across this book. I wanted to dig more deeply into Rorty's idea, and I hoped that Dalrymple might develop it furt
that cute little red-eyed kitten
Interesting observations. I too have my doubts about the relative power and influence of reason vs. emotion, argument vs. emoting, the trend of labeling people and groups as "victims" and what implications that carries. I'm not sure I agree with the author completely, but that's another thing which annoys me - the "completely right or wholly wrong" demand - I don't need to swallow it whole or to agree 100% to find "Book X" or "Thought Y" interesting. I'll try to read some more books by ...more
Dec 02, 2010 Steve rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-of-2010
A spectacular tirade against sentimentalism in British culture - this is Dalrymple at his best.
From the rise of modern education theory, play-centred, child-led, with it's denigration of language, cultural relativism and spiraling standards, to the mediafest of sentimentalism, hyper-emotionalism and general shallowness.
Jul 31, 2010 Rose added it
Shelves: 2010
A rather forgettable book, although notable for Dalrymple's defence of Roy Meadow's views on child abuse in the endnotes - apparently he and David Southall "became victims...of a concerted and vengeful campaign to ruin them. So effective was this campaign that, for a time at least, British paediatricians would not testify as experts in court cases involving child abuse."
Heather Tomlinson
Aug 14, 2013 Heather Tomlinson rated it really liked it
I've become rather concerned that what is dubbed 'compassion' in our culture is nothing of the sort, but sometimes would better be called indulgence. Darymple calls it 'sentimentality' and explores some of the contradictions and problems that it causes in society. It can be a touch bitter in places, but an interesting read nonetheless.
Jan 03, 2014 Mohammed rated it it was amazing
At the heart of every unnecessary drama, lies the insidious face of sentimentality. Everyone should read this great book to see how skewed and twisted our senses have become when it comes to victimizing ourselves and others to appeal to sympathy and other benefits.
Mar 11, 2016 Tom rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Tripe, with little relation to its supposed premise. The author clearly longs for the days when the underclass knew their place.
Andrew Devine-rattigan
Oct 29, 2013 Andrew Devine-rattigan rated it it was amazing
Fantastic read. I don't agree with everything Dalrymple says, but he challenges and debunks some of western society's most precious beliefs. Very, very witty and thought provoking.
Jan 02, 2014 Barry rated it it was amazing
Highly recommended. Dalrymple touches a nerve here. The section on Di's death and the outpouring of sentimentality that followed is incendiary.
Nov 20, 2012 Casey rated it did not like it
there is a lot of sand in the author's *shorts*.
Feb 13, 2014 Corey rated it it was amazing
In Which the Superlative Dalrymple Goes Sacred Cow Tipping.
Jun 24, 2016 Dierregi rated it liked it
This is the second Dalrymple's book I read, after "Anything goes". I totally agree about the toxicity of the cult of sentimentality, but I did not like much the book's structure. The six essays exploring different aspects of sentimentality are loosely connected, while I was expecting a single, articulated essay.

However, Dalrymple is spot on when he mentions the Romantic movement as the source of many wrong ideas that are still plaguing society nowadays. One of the most pernicious ideas was the
Matthew Griffiths
Feb 06, 2013 Matthew Griffiths rated it liked it
I'm not sure really what I made of the book, while on the surface the arguments were convincing and the debunking of the cult of sentimentality was entertaining to read I was somewhat annoyed at the lack of counter arguments the author provided to balance the book and prove why the views he was advocating were more worthy of support than those he was dismissing. Also the tone of the book was a little troubling in that it while I presume the aim was to sound disapproving of every manifestation of ...more
R.P. Bosman
Dalrymple, de cultuurcritici van Engeland, is zoals zijn eerdere boeken messcherp in zijn analyse. In dit boek gaat het over de negatieve invloed en de doorwerking van het sentiment op en in onze samenleving. De doorwerking bevindt zich op het publiek beleid en in de publieke reactie op gebeurtenissen of maatschappelijke problemen. De publieke emoties, de slachtofferverklaring en –rol, het multiculturalisme, het onderwijs komen terug in zijn redevoering. Dalrymple, durft in te gaan tegen de ...more
Aug 07, 2014 Alan rated it really liked it
This book will touch a lot of nerves so it is not surprising to see people reacting to it strongly, pro or con. Whatever the case, it's hard to deny that the cult of sentimentality Dalrymple describes has taken hold of the West. His examples are drawn from public life in the UK, but readers in other countries will be able to conjure up their own without too much effort. It is good to have empathy for our neighbours, but it is risky business when fleeting and subjective feelings become the ...more
Alan Hughes
Aug 07, 2012 Alan Hughes rated it really liked it
This is perhaps less weighty than some of his other works but is still well-written and very enjoyable. At times this can be extremely funny and at other worrisomely accurate about concerns for our culture. There is much common sense and some sacred cows are given a rough time. 13 -"Britain now has millions of certified invalids more indeed than after the First World War" 99 "Sentimentality is the expression of emotion without judgement"
Sep 01, 2016 Khordofon rated it liked it
Recommends it for: meu bom amigo luã urbã
3.5 estrelas

Artigos bons, artigos ruins, artigos puláveis, um sentimento de "hm" no geral mas bem interessante; destaquei algumas passagens sobre vitimização, amor e família que mereceriam mais pensamento mas pra um livro de ensaios assim tá bem legal

E ele realmente parece um velho chato às vezes
Daniel Lucraft
Feb 24, 2013 Daniel Lucraft rated it really liked it
Very controversial book. Don't pay too much attention to the score, this is one that you'll either love or despise.

Highlights for me were: the demolition of the rationale behind the Family Impact Statement, and the illustration of how a suspect with control over their emotions is nowadays considered more likely to be guilty.
Gaz Watson
May 28, 2014 Gaz Watson rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Just finished this and loved it, it describes exactly what I find disgusting about the way society is going, but far better than I ever could. Now if only people would read this and change their ways.
Patrick Carroll
Old "good", new "bad", the world is going to hell in a hand basket and it is all youth's fault, it was ever thus! In reality I enjoyed the grumpy perspective but didn't "buy" the argument totally, had a fair amount going for it but the author should have backed off a little earlier.
Florian Thiel
Jun 22, 2013 Florian Thiel rated it it was ok
I started reading the book because I agreed with the premise, "think it through" but it comes across as very ranty for the most parts.
Aug 19, 2014 Rachel rated it liked it
A touch of the 'everything's gone to the dogs' and I didn't always agree with him but he makes some interesting and thought provoking points. Better than reading the Metro for your morning commute.
Jan 21, 2014 Brian rated it liked it
Love the sentiment, don't like the execution. It's a collection of columns for a British audience, so while I get the main point, I could use a few explanatory footnotes.
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Anthony Daniels is a British writer and retired physician (prison doctor and psychiatrist), who generally uses the pen name Theodore Dalrymple. He has also used the pen name Edward Theberton and two other pen names. Before his retirement in 2005 he worked as a doctor and psychiatrist in a hospital and nearby prison in a slum area in Birmingham.
More about Theodore Dalrymple...

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“The Cartesian point of moral epistemology: I'm angry, therefore I'm right.” 6 likes
“Political correctness is often the attempt to make sentimentality socially obligatory or legally enforceable.” 3 likes
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