Stephen Blumenthal in the Telegraph: “Optimism laced with realism is the only way to face our uncertain future”
5 March 2021
Dr Stephen Blumenthal, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Psychoanalyst here at the Tavistock and Portman, has written a new piece for The Telegraph: We're all desperate to go on holiday and meet friends and family again – but a psychologist cautions against unbridled fantasy
Admiral James Stockdale, naval officer and erstwhile vice presidential candidate, endured seven and a half years of brutality and torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
His name is synonymous with the Stockdale paradox, which describes the need to balance realism and optimism when we face adversity.
“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal of your current reality,” Admiral Stockdale declared.
This resilience in the face of his ordeal has much to teach us as the green shoots of recovery appear, but whilst we face the uncertainties of our economic, social and psychological renewal.
Science shows the value of this dual mind set. The psychologist, Gabrielle Oettingen, was interested in the correspondence between imagining an ideal outcome and actual, real-life consequences.