Something has been going wrong on many college campuses in the last few years. Speakers are shouted down. Students and professors say they are walking on eggshells and are afraid to speak honestly. Rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide are rising—on campus as well as nationally. How did this happen?
First Amendment expert Greg Lukianoff and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt show how the new problems on campus have their origins in three terrible ideas that have become increasingly woven into American childhood and education: What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker; always trust your feelings; and life is a battle between good people and evil people. These three Great Untruths contradict basic psychological principles about well-being and ancient wisdom from many cultures. Embracing these untruths—and the resulting culture of safetyism—interferes with young people’s social, emotional, and intellectual development. It makes it harder for them to become autonomous adults who are able to navigate the bumpy road of life.
Lukianoff and Haidt investigate the many social trends that have intersected to promote the spread of these untruths. They explore changes in childhood such as the rise of fearful parenting, the decline of unsupervised, child-directed play, and the new world of social media that has engulfed teenagers in the last decade. They examine changes on campus, including the corporatization of universities and the emergence of new ideas about identity and justice. They situate the conflicts on campus within the context of America’s rapidly rising political polarization and dysfunction.
This is a book for anyone who is confused by what is happening on college campuses today, or has children, or is concerned about the growing inability of Americans to live, work, and cooperate across party lines.
Catching Up With 'Coddling'
A series updating developments since the publication of The Coddling of the American Mind.
- Part One: Introduction
- Part Two: Trigger warnings, social media, and mental health
- Part Three: Censorship from the right
- Part Four: Political polarization
- Part Five: Paranoid parenting
- ‘Coddling’ Caveat #1: Social media
- Part Six: U.S. income stratification
- Part Seven: Paranoid parenting with Kate Julian and Caveat #2
- Part Eight: Free play and childhood independence
- Part Nine: Bureaucratization, administrative bloat, and tuition
- Part Ten: Corporatism and free speech
- Part Eleven: Bias response teams
- Part Twelve: Apolitical censorship
- Part Thirteen: Title IX
- Part Fourteen: Ideological litmus tests in ed schools
- Part Fifteen: Ed school conformity and censorship
- Part Sixteen: Ed schools and the possible triumph of a thought reform model
Jon and Greg wrote an afterword for The Coddling of the American Mind in the summer of 2021 to be added to a second edition of the book in 2022, but it grew so long that it would have raised the page count and cost of the book substantially. Instead, the nine sections of the afterword will be released in seven parts in the coming weeks, here and at Persuasion.
- Part 1: Gen Z’s Mental Health Continues to Deteriorate
- Part 2: It’s Social Media — More Than Screen Time — That Matters for Mental Health
- Part 3: Increasing Persecution on Campus
- Part 4: The Polarization Spiral and the Great Awokening (published at Persuasion)
- Part 5: International Coddling
- Part 6: Corporate Coddling (published at Persuasion)