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Spoilt Rotten: The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality
Spoilt Rotten: The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality is a polemical 2010 work by the British Jewish writer and retired prison doctor and psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple. The book attempts to reveal how, in the author's view, sentimentality has become culturally entrenched in British society, with seriously harmful effects. Dalrymple explores a range of social, educational, political, media and literary issues—including falling standards in education, the Make Poverty History campaign, the death of Princess Diana, the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and the work and life of the poet Sylvia Plath—to illustrate what he views as the danger of abandoning logic in favour of sentimentality, which he describes in the book's introduction as "the progenitor, the godparent, the midwife of brutality". Much of Dalrymple's analysis in the book is underpinned by his experience of working with criminals and the mentally ill.
In his writing, Dalrymple had frequently referred to the phenomenon of sentimentality in British society. In 2004, he wrote: "To make up for its lack of a moral compass, the British public is prey to sudden gusts of kitschy sentimentality followed by vehement outrage, encouraged by the cheap and cynical sensationalism of its press. Spasms of self-righteousness are its substitute for the moral life".