Episode 2: George Vaillant
Welcome to the second Acculturated-Ricochet podcast on culture, high and low! In this show, Ben Domenech and Emily Esfahani-Smith interview the Harvard psychiatrist George Vaillant about his new book Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study, which was recently reviewed in the Wall Street Journal and covered by David Brooks in a New York Times column.
The Grant Study of Adult Development began in 1938 when over 200 promising Harvard men–among them John F. Kennedy, Ben Bradlee, and Donald Cole–were recruited to participate in one of the most comprehensive and ambitious longitudinal studies of all time. Though that may sound somewhat clinical, Vaillant’s book, by following the men through the triumphs and tragedies of their lives, reads more like literature than like science. The characters that come and go on his stage can be Shakespearian; these were Harvard men that should have made it in life–they were destined for success. Did they? If they didn’t, what happened? If they did, what was their secrets?
There is a fabulous Atlantic article, “What Makes Us Happy?”, from several years ago that goes into some depth about the study.
Direct link here.