psy220_week1_reading1 - introduction The Why of Human...

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Unformatted text preview: introduction The Why of Human Behavior Human Freedom Human Limits Initiative and Human Values Overview of Positive Psychology The stream of causation from past to future runs through our present choices. — David G. Myers, 2002 Sometimes the worst times elicit the best from people. Consider a few remarkable displays of strength. In 1940, Adolph Hitler ruled most of Europe. The Final Solution appeared on course. Sempo Sugihara, Japan’s Consul General in Lithuania, seemed an unlikely roadblock. For 16 years he had provided loyal, obedient service in a variety of government posts. Sempo loved life’s luxuries and was ambitious. His career goal? To become the Japan- ese ambassador to Russia. Nonetheless, when 200 Polish Jews gathered outside his door for help in fleeing the country, he responded. Twice he wired his home govern- ment to authorize travel visas. Rejected each time, he decided to prepare them any- way—knowingly throwing away his diplomatic career. And once started, Sempo didn’t stop. Even after the consulate was shut down, he continued to write escape papers for the innocent—still frantically preparing travel visas on the train that was to take him back to Berlin. He saved thousands. For his insubordination, Sempo Sugihara lost his position. In fact, he was reduced to selling light bulbs after the war. Interviewed 45 years later about his rescue efforts, he simply said, “They were human , and they needed help.” (Kenrick, Neuberg, & Cialdini, 2002, p. 304) Two months after World War II ended, Margie Cooper, a 26-year-old mother of two young sons, was stricken with polio. Except for one resilient toe, she was paralyzed from the neck down. For four decades she lived without bitterness—even joyfully—in an iron lung. Her husband, John, accompanied her on this long journey with equal equanimity. For the first four years that his wife resided in polio wards, John projected home movies on the hospital room ceilings so she could watch her two sons grow up. When he moved Margie home in the iron lung, John became the operator of the life- sustaining bellows. Son Dale remembers his father’s daily routine: “He’d fix her break- fast. He’d fluff up her hair. He’d turn the pages of a book. He’d turn on the TV, and he’d turn it off. His wife was his vocation.” Telephoning on the couple’s thirtieth wedding anniversary, a Chicago television producer was puzzled: “I can’t imagine a guy sticking with his wife when she’s got nothing to offer.” John immediately replied, “I’m just keep- ing a promise.” (Snapper, 2003, p. A6) In spring 2003, hiker Aron Ralston found himself hopelessly pinned by a boulder that had rolled onto his arm in a remote Utah canyon. For three days he survived on some water, two burritos, and a few crumbs left in candy bar wrappers. On the fourth day he prepared his surgical table. He went through the motions of applying a tourniquet, laid out his hiking shorts to absorb blood, and in his mind worked out how to cut through his...
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This note was uploaded on 02/06/2011 for the course PSY 220 taught by Professor Lind during the Spring '10 term at University of Phoenix.

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psy220_week1_reading1 - introduction The Why of Human...

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