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Christopher Peterson's and Martin Seligman's Character Strengths and Virtues (CSV) is supposed to be the "positive" antidote to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, more popularly known as the DSM, now in its fifth incarnation DSM-5. Whereas the DSM-5 is a catalog of all the mental problems a person could be said to have, the CSV is supposed to be a catalog of all the mental strengths a person could be said to have. The CSV is part of a larger effort to get people not only to overcome their disorders but to understand and better realize their strengths and therefore their potential as human beings.
To give you an example for how this would work, Readers are asked to go to AuthenticHappiness.org, sign up (it's free), take this very long survey called the "VIA Survey of Character Strengths," and then read what their top five strengths are. After that, they can read about those strengths in this book, the CSV and find better ways to make use of those strengths in their daily lives. My top strengths, for instance, are "love of learning," "curiosity," "creativity," "humor," and "open-mindedness." I am also a teacher. Here is a simple way I can integrate these strengths into my teaching. I can learn about the subject I teach as much as possible through study ("love of learning"), I can discover new things about my students through asking questions and allowing exercises where students open up ("curiosity"), I can research news methods for teaching more effectively ("creativity"), I can make fun of myself and my blunders, and general incongruities in life and work and so on, as they come up in the classroom ("humor"), and I can be receptive and understanding to my students and their expression, giving them first the benefit of the doubt ("open-mindedness"). It is also, of course, possible for me to integrate these strengths into my relationships and into my play.
Readers of this book are also encouraged, after they have better incorporated their natural strengths into their lives, to cultivate another strength. For example, I could do more to increase "Kindness/Generosity" as a strength, by displaying kindness in various situations to students and colleagues. And of course in other areas of life.
Not exactly electrifying reading, but clear academic prose. The font size is reasonable. The book is built to last a very long time. Lots of research clearly went into it. If the subject interests you, I wouldn't hesitate to buy it. If you don't mind previous owners' underlining, which I don't, a used copy would seem appropriate. (I don't see how you could read this book and remember it without underlining. It's fully packed.)
This is a very long, highly detailed academic book on the positive psychology approach to strengths, that goes into great depth on the etiology of character strengths and virtues. If you have a professional or academic reason to understand everything you possibly can about strengths-based psychology, this is the book to read. If you just want personal knowledge of your own strengths, reader Strengths Finder 2.0 by Donald Clifton.
I found this to be the most thorough treatment of postive psychology yet considered. However, like the whole field of positive psychology this work leaves both the motivation for practicing such attributes and the explanation for the lack of such practice without adequate explantation. In an age in which almost daily we hear or see in the daily news goverment officials guitly of failing to practice these virtures (those to whom we entrust our resources and who we expect to be model for the next generation), it seems to me that such a scholarly volume as this cannot overlook motivation or lack of practice.