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The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  25,546 ratings  ·  3,237 reviews
A timely investigation into the campus assault on free speech and what it means for students, education, and our democracy.

The generation now coming of age has been taught three Great Untruths: their feelings are always right; they should avoid pain and discomfort; and they should look for faults in others and not themselves. These three Great Untruths are part of a larger
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by Penguin Books (first published July 17th 2018)
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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 ·  25,546 ratings  ·  3,237 reviews

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Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is a very narrow and small-minded book parading as a big thoughtful one. It says it is about the American Mind, but the data and the theory only support "the coddling" of a very narrow subset of the American mind: upper middle class college kids born after 1995 that got to college in 2013. As far as that group is concerned, this is really good advice. I totally agree with his three untruths--your feelings are not necessarily true, the world is not good and evil, and adversity does not make ...more
Ryan Boissonneault
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Imagine that you want to start a fitness program to increase your strength and endurance and sign up at the local gym. Upon arrival, you notice that management has removed all of the weights, concerned that heavy weights can cause stress and injury. Instead, you are instructed to perform light body-weight exercises that you can already safely handle. As you go through the motions of exercise, progress is nonexistent and you’ll be entirely unprepared for any activities that might require greater ...more
Emily May
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, 2019
I saw Jonathan Haidt speak on Real Time and he seemed like an intelligent guy with a lot of interesting ideas, so I patiently waited for this book to become available at my library. I'm also curious about this notion of kids being overprotected or "coddled".

It's looking more and more like the developed world's need to protect its kids, wrap them in bubble wrap, and disinfect everything might be the cause of a variety of unsavoury things, from Berkeley banning speakers to the rise in childhood l
David Rubenstein
This is a fascinating but very disturbing book about how college students have recently been caught in the three great untruths. The first untruth is that one's feelings are the best guide to correctness. The second is that one should avoid pain or discomfort; what doesn't kill you makes you weaker. And the third untruth is that one should find fault in others, and not in one's self.

This book is not about helicopter parents, although they certainly contribute. It is about a new culture of safety
Update 5/14/21:

Haidt and his supporters, your thoughts?

Is this how we enoculate people against the emotional and intellectual weakness that results from a "coddled" mind?

Are educators and supervisors supposed to stand by as students and employees exercise their first-amendment right to behave like the republican representative discussed in the above article?

Update 4/30/21:

Haidt and his supporters, your thoughts?

I gu
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Education should not be intended to make people comfortable; it is meant to make them think." ~Hanna Gray

I'm not sure how to begin this review other than to say it was both interesting and disturbing. Having read iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy--and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood--and What That Means for the Rest of Us, I was somewhat aware of what is taking place in universities across the US. The authors of "The Coddling of
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, audiobook
97th book for 2018.

This again seems like a good article that got bloated unnecessarily into a book. There are some good points about the necessity to develop resilience in children, but with little strong substance to back things up. The arguments seem one-sided and cherry-picked. Reading this book you'd think that snowflake liberal children are rioting on every campus in America.

Also the focus of the book is a bit unclear to me: is it a critique of the commercialization of the university syste
Dec 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When picking up this book, I had the distinct impression that I MIGHT be getting into a polemical debate with some sort of bias beginning to scream at Lefts or Rights... but that's the funny thing.

This book argues AGAINST triggers. Against going with your knee-jerk reactions. Against Safetyism.

A culture of safety is NOT the same thing as providing a safe physical environment. It should be obvious, but often is not, that having seatbelts in cars is not the same thing as students shouting down spe
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
The central tenets of this book are good but incredibly repetitive and fluffed up. Towards the end of the book, I wanted to shoot myself everytime I read the word "saftyism." The book started out as an article, which explains a lot. It should've stayed an article.

Also, the Authors fail to provide compelling evidence in support of their hypothesis that we are facing a generational crisis. They largely backup their sweeping generalizations about "I-Gen" with extreme anecdotal cases. The section on
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of this book, and will be recommending it to at least half the people I know. Its insights into the various developments over the past couple generations(parenting, social media, identity politics) weave a fascinating (if often dispiriting) and comprehensive picture of how we got to the current political climate, particularly on campus. The book is challenging in many respects, while remaining accessible and engaging. I’ll be thinking about it for a lon ...more
Robert Miller
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There can be little doubt that students entering our colleges and universities for the past several years are traveling to the beat of a different drum. For the most part, many of these young men and women are developmentally challenged in several ways. Their stunted growth is the result of their parent’s upbringing; the students have been coddled by their parents, trained to fear anyone outside of their immediate circles, prohibited from engaging in creative thinking, stopped from normal play a ...more
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: higher-education
Summary: Discusses three bad ideas that result in a culture of "safetyism" in higher education, chronicles the consequences of these bad ideas, traces factors that led to the embrace of these ideas, and how we might choose a wiser way.

1. The Untruth of Fragility: What doesn't kill you makes you weaker.
2. The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning: Always trust your feelings.
3. The Untruth of Us Versus Them: Life is a battle between good people and evil people.

Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt contend th
Hallelujah and Amen!

A definite TBR for parents of kids 'tween 2 and 22 - the iGen.
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clear and succinct explanations and observable outcomes for the "oversee" of safety practices in American education.

All three untruths can be easily heard and observed in various fields of teaching and higher education environments especially. I have observed them to an increased extent even within my Roman Catholic university employer environments.

The last untruth about worldview or ideas being either good/evil is becoming so endemic and evident, not only in education, but in the media langua
Ill D
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Gentlemen and Scholars
Shelves: reviewed
In spite of an incredibly Pollyana-ish ending, Coddling of the American Mind is an otherwise superbly well written and well researched book about one of the most pressing issues of contemporary American politics: Political Correctness. Standing comfortably aside modern intellectual heavyweights such as Jordan Peterson who have critiqued our cultural milieu, I was not the least bit surprised with the message within. However, I was particularly surprised to discover that A: the authors are neither ...more
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Much as I've come to admire Haidt, I'll admit that I was worried to see this title, which seems like a typical "culture wars" click bait. How did the book hold up upon reading it?

This is a reasonably argued book about extreme incidents on American college campuses and how they relate to the larger culture. The title is bad, however, because it makes the text at first glance combative in a way that I don't associate with Haidt. (I generally view him as persuading from a pretty easily established
Justin Norman
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
When I read Haidt's book, "The Righteous Mind", I found it to be the most important book I'd read in years, because it so accurately seemed to capture the central issues liberals and conservatives in America were having communicating with one another. This book zooms in to highlight these issues in even more accurate detail, in great part due to the fact that it was very recently written and published. Some examples: the blocking of political opponents from speaking publicly, the trending lie th ...more
Scott Rhee
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I haven’t been on a college campus in about 25 years. Things have changed: I get it. I wasn’t aware, however, until reading Greg Lukianoff and Jonathon Haidt’s book “The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure”, how things have changed so terribly.

If you’ve followed the news at all in the past couple years, you’ll get a sense of how fucked up things are, but the media doesn’t always capture the whole story, and in today’s political
Edward Sullivan
This urgent, important book should be read by everyone, especially parents and educators. The authors examine the root of divisiveness plaguing American society, the increasing inability of individuals of all political persuasions to engage in rational, intelligent, thoughtfully reasoned debate and dialogue. Complicit in this alarming decline are institutions of higher learning embracing emotionalism over critical and analytical thinking, dialectics, and abandoning their sacred obligation to def ...more
Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2020
Like any other living thing on earth human beings are adaptive. To be strong, they need a Darwinian fitness environment that exposes them to calculated levels of stress. On a physical level, we all accept that the stress of exercise at an appropriate level makes us stronger. But something similar applies to our psychological lives. Some level of adversity and discomfort is not just desirable but necessary to make people mentally and spiritually strong enough to face the vicissitudes and challeng ...more
Thank you to Goodreads and the publisher for the free advance copy!!

This was an excellent and informative read. If you've ever wondered and worried about the worrying trend of people being publically shamed and harassed to the point that they've lost their reputations, careers and sometimes even physical safety just for expressing an unpopular opinion, this book is an absolute must read. It's actually bipartisan and takes a long scathing look at worrying trends from the left as well as the right
Tristram Shandy
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sociology, psychology
Never Judge a Book by Its Title

Admittedly, a title like The Coddling of the American Mind might make you expect of cultural pessimist’s rant on how things in this word, or, preferably, country, are going to pot because people are just no longer what they used to be. And they never will be, any more, so that if you want to keep up with things, there is no alternative but mental potty-training. However, the authors, lawyer and First Amendment expert Greg Lukianoff and psychologist Jonathan Haidt,
Chris Sosa
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Coddling of the American Mind," a collaboration between Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, is a solid step above Jonathan Haidt's previous work ("The Righteous Mind") and his first book in collaboration with Lukianoff, who serves as the current president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

"Coddling" addresses the troubling fragility of Generation Z, which the book describes as a result of an irrational cultural phenomenon the authors call "safetyism." The authors suggest t
Darren Lipomi
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Happily connected to science rather than a litany of complaints about "kids these days." ...more
See original article here. Review of a review here. Mere-O review here. See Keller and Haidt in conversation here. ...more
Eric Morse
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book addresses issues that are defining our age. That is nothing remarkable in itself, unless you realize that these issues and the perspectives shared in this book have become taboo in our identity-saturated culture. What the authors have done is spoken the unspeakable. In so doing, they have nobly spotted the dangers of political correctness, 'vindictive protectiveness', and 'safetyism', and provided a stark warning to educators and laymen alike.

Lukianoff and Haidt do not provide the most
Michael Perkins
Can't say I learned anything new from this book. My kids are Millennials in their early 30's. The authors are directing their exposition to the parents of the generation that followed, what they call iGen (internet generation), sometimes referred to as Generation Z. I agree that what they call Three Bad Ideas are bad. Our approach was the opposite. As soon as our kids were old enough, we explained that life was a process of overcoming their fears.

I was already familiar with their examples of ove
Laura Noggle
May 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2019
Found this one to be a chore for the majority, mass generalizations based on a very limited subset of American middle class/college educated.

There were a lot of interesting points however.

Appreciated the frequent references to one of my favorite authors, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, particularly his book Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder.

“Free speech and the ability to tolerate offense are the hallmarks of a free and open society.”

This book focuses on addressing these three main points:

1. T
Aj Swanson
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you work with youth, read this book

Great insight into iGen and the current cultural climate they live in. Any other generation that works with iGen would benefit greatly from reading this book.
Oct 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
The flaws of this book cloud the conclusion. Some of the flaws:
-Anecdotes about campus events are used despite authors demand that everyone be more focused on facts and data. Some of the incidents described are indeed examples of extreme sensitivity and intolerance. Worrisome trend, but not convincing that campuses have abandoned free speech.
-Serious lack of time spent on investigating and confirming the issues college students care about. The Trump administration is a frightening turn, threaten
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A possible book for Sept? 2 9 Sep 10, 2020 03:38PM  
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Jonathan Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University's Stern School of Business. He is the author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion and The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom. He lives in New York City. ...more

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“From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion. Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.” 47 likes
“A culture that allows the concept of “safety” to creep so far that it equates emotional discomfort with physical danger is a culture that encourages people to systematically protect one another from the very experiences embedded in daily life that they need in order to become strong and healthy.” 20 likes
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