Views & Reviews Medical Classics

The Conquest of Happiness

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 09 October 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a1745
  1. Kate S Robertson, staff grade, forensic child and adolescent mental health services, Kidderminster
  1. kate.robertson{at}

    In its very dated style this is a practical guide to not being miserable. Written long before Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders (1975) introduced cognitive behavioural therapy, Russell’s book is firmly rooted in its time and class (he cites as examples the happiness of his gardener and his maid) but concentrates on individual responsibility, and therein lies the book’s strength and continuing relevance.

    Its structure is (as it would be) eminently logical, starting with the causes of unhappiness, proceeding to the causes of happiness, and ending with “the happy man.” Russell does not so much discount women as relegate them to the status of …

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