Not exercising as much as you should? Counting your calories in your sleep? Feeling ashamed for not being happier? You may be a victim of the wellness syndrome.
In this ground-breaking new book, Carl Cederström and André Spicer argue that the ever-present pressure to maximize our wellness has started to work against us, making us feel worse and provoking us to withdraw into ourselves. The Wellness Syndrome follows health freaks who go to extremes to find the perfect diet, corporate athletes who start the day with a dance party, and the self-trackers who monitor everything, including their own toilet habits. This is a world where feeling good has become indistinguishable from being good. Visions of social change have been reduced to dreams of individual transformation, political debate has been replaced by insipid moralising, and scientific evidence has been traded for new-age delusions. A lively and humorous diagnosis of the cult of wellness, this book is an indispensable guide for everyone suspicious of our relentless quest to be happier and healthier.
* Exam copies only available to lecturers for whom the book may be suitable as a course text.
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"In their witty, caustic new book Carl Cederström and André Spicer dissect our contemporary infatuation with a cluster of seemingly innocuous concepts health, happiness, mindfulness, authenticity and positivity seeking to lay bare the pernicious, individualistic values that underlie them."
William Rees, The TLS
"Carl Cederström and André Spicer s brilliantly sardonic anatomy of this wellness syndrome concentrates on the ways in which the pressure to be well operates as a moralising command and obliterates political engagement... These authors would no doubt agree that there is nothing wrong with being well or wanting to be well. But, as their deeply humane and persuasive book shows, being told to be well is a different matter entirely. A society where wellness is obligatory is a sick one."
Steven Poole, The Guardian
"When I read their angry, hilarious book, The Wellness Syndrome, I felt like I was being shaken awake from a dream."
Helen Rumbelow, The Times
"The Wellness Syndrome slinks like a submarine beneath
the disingenuously placid surface-narratives of contemporary
ideology, before torpedoing, with devastating effect, that most
pernicious of all neo-liberal doctrines: positiveness."
Tom McCarthy, author of Remainder, C and Satin Island
"A fascinating and timely investigation of the modern ideology
of 'wellness', with its moralizing insistence that being a good
member of society means meditating more, exercising more and using
your smartphone to track sleep patterns, your diet and even your
sex life. Carl Cederström and André Spicer vividly show
how the consumer economy has co-opted health and even happiness
itself- and warn that our fixation on wellness is ultimately an
anxiety-inducing, isolating and joyless way to live."
Oliver Burkeman, Guardian columnist and author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking
"A wonderful piece of work which exposes the wellness ideology
for what it is: a stupid and dreadful fantasy of authentic
self-mastery. As this timely and entertaining book shows, such
fantasies must be nailed.'
Simon Critchley, The New School for Social Research
'We all obscurely sense that politics has dramatically shifted.
Less involved in the ?body politic? than ever, we are all far more
deeply engaged with our own bodies, through medicine, meditation
workshops or fitness classes. As this insightful and elegant book
shows, this shift marks a dramatic change in our societies as it
makes health and happiness the new markers of 'morality' or
'immorality'. Fat people and smokers are now united in their common
immorality. Marshalling an impressive array of evidence, this book
sheds a much-needed light on the new tyranny exerted by the
cultural imperatives of health and happiness."
Eva Illouz, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
"Using a comprehensive set of case studies, Carl Cederström
and André Spicer diagnose contemporary capitalism's obsession
with 'wellness'. The Wellness Syndrome is a mordantly witty
analysis of how ideology works today. It demonstrates that the
fixation on health is itself pathological - and that sickness can
Mark Fisher, Goldsmiths University
Carl Cedertröm is Associate Professor at Stockholm
Andre Spicer is Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Cass Business School, City University, London