The Coddling of the American Mind  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure is a 2018 book by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt. The book is an expansion of a popular essay the two wrote for The Atlantic in 2015.

The book is a finalist for the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.



The book argues that recent problems on college campuses originate from three "Great Untruths" that have been increasingly included as part of American childhood and education:

  1. The Untruth of Fragility: What doesn't kill you makes you weaker.
  2. The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning: Always trust your feelings.
  3. The Untruth of Us Versus Them: Life is a battle between good people and evil people.

The book argues that these "Great Untruths" are the cause of many problems for young people, universities and liberal democracies.


The book reached number eight on The New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction best-sellers list. It spent four weeks on the list.


Edward Luce of the Financial Times praised the book, saying the authors "do a great job of showing how 'safetyism' is cramping young minds."

Writing for The New York Times, Thomas Chatterton Williams praised the book's explanations and analysis of recent college campus trends as "compelling".

Writing for The Washington Post, Michael S. Roth, president of Wesleyan University, gave the book a mixed review, questioning the book's assertion that students today are "disempowered because they’ve been convinced they are fragile". Roth however said that the authors' "insights on the dangers of creating habits of "moral dependency" are timely and important".

Moira Weigel, writing for The Guardian, criticized the book: "As the right liberals insist that students are suffering from pathological "distortions", a sense of unreality prevails. In their safe space of TED talks and thinktanks and think pieces, the genteel crusaders against "political correctness" create their own speech codes. As their constituency shrinks, their cant of progress starts to sound hysterical. The minds they coddle just may be their own."

See also

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