5 Problems with the Self Help Industry

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The self help industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. It fills bookstores and conference rooms. It’s made media celebrities out of people and capitalized wildly off the growing self-consciousness of recent generations. And although it’s changed the lives of millions of people — mostly
for the better, I assume — it still lacks a certain credibility with most. Many regard it as simple snake oil. Others laugh at the bizarre superstitions that get passed off as legitimate life advice. Many try self help out but are left feeling disgruntled.

For better or worse, the self help industry is market-driven rather than peer-reviewed. It’s not scientific. And because of this, the onus is on the reader to sift through the material, deliberate over what’s credible and what’s not, and then find a way to apply it to their own lives in a useful way.

That is not easy.

Clinical psychology doesn’t exact have a stellar track record of personal change either, but at least when you lay down on the sofa, you know you’re dealing with a qualified expert who is telling you what to do based on 100+ years of research.

With self help, god knows where half of these people come from. You have to wear your skepticism as a parachute and be ruthless in what you allow into your daily life.

1. Self Help Reinforces Perceptions of Inferiority and Shame

Two types of people get hooked on self help material: those who feel something is fundamentally wrong with them and they are willing to try anything to make it better, and those people who think they’re already generally a good person, but they have some problems and blind spots and want to become great people.

Call these the “Bad-to-OK” people and the “OK-to-Great” people. Bad-to-OK people are in it because they believe that they’re fundamentally flawed and want to fix themselves. OK-to-Great people are in it because they think they are OK, but they want to become great.

Generally speaking, the OK-to-Great people do just that — they go from having an average and “OK” life and turn it into something really unique and great over the course of years.

self help problemsThe Bad-to-OK people improve little, if at all, even after years of “effort”. In some cases, they may even get worse.

OK, Why?

Bad-to-OK people consistently fail because they possess a fundamental worldview that interprets everything they do, including self help, to support their inferiority or lack of worthiness.

For example, an OK-to-Great person may read a book on becoming happy and think, “Oh, cool, there are a bunch of things in here that I’m not doing. I should try them out.”

A Bad-to-OK person will read the same book and say, “Wow, look at all of this stuff I’m not doing. I’m an even bigger loser than I initially thought.”

In other cases, Bad-to-OK people may improve the superficial circumstances of their lives — how much money they’re making, what kind of car they drive — but they will continue to have the miserable feeling of not being good enough.

The fundamental difference is that Bad-to-OK lack self-acceptance that most people have. An OK-to-Great person will look at the string of bad choices and mistakes throughout their life and decide that they should make better choices and learn how to be a better person. A Bad-to-OK person will assume every choice they make is bad because they are a fundamentally flawed person and that the only way they can make good choices is by doing exactly what someone else says, word-for-word.

(There’s a sick tangent here regarding religion, the oldest and most popular version of self help. Most religions, especially conservative sects, shame people from a very young age into feeling unworthy, and then providing the beliefs and choices for them to surrender their autonomy over to.)

The irony here is that the pre-requisite for self help to be effective is the one crucial thing that self help cannot actually help: accept yourself as a good person who makes mistakes.

Sure, sit with your Chi, be still in the “now”, say your affirmations and journal until you’re blue in the face, but Bad-to-OK people will continue to perceive themselves as “Bad” and never reach the “OK” they’re desperately looking for. Because this inadequacy is their worldview, everything they do will only reinforce it further. At best, all they can hope for is to cover it up or suppress it.

2. Self Help Is Often Yet Another Form of Avoidance

George Carlin once joked that self help was a paradox because if someone was actually capable of helping themselves then they wouldn’t need to read a book on helping themselves.

People consciously perceive their problems in all sorts of unique and creative ways: I don’t know when to kiss her; my family and I always fight; I feel tired and lazy all the time; I can’t stop eating sweets; my dog hates me; my ex-girlfriend burnt my house down; and on and on.

These all feel like “real” problems. But in almost every situation, the root of the problem is actually some deep form of anxiety/neuroticism or an unconscious feeling of shame or unworthiness (aka, low self-esteem).

We already saw how self help usually proves ineffectual in dealing with the shame. Unfortunately, it often fails in handling the anxiety/neuroticism as well.

When someone with an inordinate amount of anxiety comes to self help material, two things usually happen, and neither of them fix the problem.

a) They simply replace one neuroticism with another, slightly healthier, neuroticism — think someone who goes from being an alcoholic and unable to hold a job to meditating and doing yoga five hours a day and still unable to hold a job.

b) Or they use the self help material as another form of avoidance. Dating advice is a classic example here — I don’t know how to ask out the person I like on a date, so I’ll read four books about it and feel like I did something. Suddenly reading the books feels far more important than actually asking the person out.

This is also commonly known as analysis paralysis.

There are only two ways I know of that uproot irrational anxieties and neuroticism. The first one is to actually go out and expose yourself to what you’re afraid of (not easy, and not fun).

The second one is to dig into your unconscious until you find some sort of correlative trauma or shame and integrate it (also not easy, and also not fun).

The problem with both of these methods is that they require months, if not years, to create major changes.

Years ago, I suffered from an inordinate amount of social anxiety in situations where I didn’t know someone already (also known as “Approach Anxiety”). I tried all of the new agey, hippy dippy stuff — the breathing exercises, the visualizations, the affirmations, the tapping, blah, blah, blah — and none of it worked. What worked was years of going out and talking to strangers, supplemented with some therapy to get a handle on some of the awful social experiences I had growing up, accepting them and then integrating them.

Not exactly marketable to people looking for the magic pill … which brings us to the next problem.

3. Self Help Marketing Creates Unrealistic Expectations

Although theoretically I have no issue with the profit-motive in the self help industry, in practice it causes problems.

With the profit-motive, the incentive is not on creating real change but creating the perception of real change.

This can be done with placebos, teaching clients to suppress certain negative feelings or to pump their temporary emotional states. It can be done by gratifying anxious people with more information and neurotics with relaxation techniques. These are all short-term solutions that create the sensation of accomplishment and improvement, but almost always dissipate within a few days or weeks.

I’m sorry, but you’re not going to get over a lifetime of feeling inadequate or shame in a single weekend. You just aren’t. What will happen is you’ll feel better about that inadequacy and shame for a while until it comes back.

(Note: I should state that I believe most self help companies and writers do have good intentions. My feeling is that they do this unconsciously because they measure their success in immediate earnings and not by following up with clients months or years later. Therefore, over time their teachings morph and cater to this standard of success.)

And then, of course, there’s the marketing. Not much needs to be said here. But in case you didn’t know, you can make millions, lose 50 pounds, have a perfect relationship and be happy 24/7 if you just sign up for this quick and easy program, for three installments of $79.95, money back guaranteed. But act now! Only 3 spots left!

To be honest, this doesn’t bother me a whole lot anymore. In fact, I’ve admittedly dabbled in it myself.

It’s market capitalism, in all of its best and its worst. And I do believe that over time, the market will become sophisticated enough to see through crap like this.

What does bother me though is that in the self help market, you have a market of not just uninformed customers, but a market of customers who genuinely have negative self-perceptions and low self-esteem, therefore they always assume it’s their fault that they didn’t get the results they wanted. This goes a little bit beyond simple ignorance and rubs up against the unethical at times.

4. Self Help is (Usually) Not Scientifically Validated

Here are the self help practices which have been shown in scientific studies to have some validity: meditation or mindfulness, keeping a journal, stating what you’re grateful for each day, being charitable and giving to others.

Here’s what the science is hit and miss on (it usually depends on how or why it is used): Neuro-Linguistic Programming, affirmations, hypnotherapy, getting in touch with your inner child.

Here’s what is complete bullshit: Feng shui, manifestations, tarot cards, telekinesis, psychics, crystals, power animals, tapping, the law of attraction, anything supernatural or woo woo.

The fact is that the majority of self help information out there is either under-informed or complete bunk.

Fortunately, in the past decade, many academics such as Brene Brown and Dan Gilbert are getting into the mix by writing self help books based on scientific studies, rather than the usual trope of “I was cleaning out my closet when God spoke to me and I suddenly became enlightened and here’s my completely arbitrary and half-baked book on what you should and should not do with your life.”

5. Self Help is a Contradiction

The contradiction of self help is that the first and most fundamental step to growth is to admit that you’re OK as you are and you don’t necessarily need anyone else’s help. It’s the prime belief. And by it’s very definition, it’s something that can’t be given to you by someone else.

The irony is that once you do accept that you don’t need someone else’s help or advice to become a good person, it’s only then that their advice truly becomes useful to you.

So in a way, self help is most useful for people who don’t actually need self help. It’s for the OK-to-Great people, not the Bad-to-OK people, although those are most of the people who get caught in its net.

Self improvement is quite literal in its meaning — it’s used to enhance oneself, not to replace it. If you’re looking to replace who you are with something else, then you will never succeed, and you’re more likely to get sucked up into the nonsense and pseudo-science and suppress your feelings of inadequacy rather than deal with them head-on.

In other cases, self help allows people to transfer and project their feelings of inadequacy onto others, or live vicariously through a “guru” or someone else’s success. Again: it’s the perception of progress and not progress itself.

So what’s the point of all of this?

It’s this: figure it out yourself. That may sound like an obvious cop-out, but seriously, why would anyone else have the answers to your life but you?

You can take their experiences and ideas into consideration, but ultimately it’s their application to your life that matters.

None of this was supposed to be easy. Anyone who tells you it is is probably marketing something.

Be skeptical. Be selfish. And be ruthless. This is your life we’re talking about. Nobody else can be happy for you. If you find yourself having that expectation, well, then there’s your problem. And no one can help you except yourself.

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78 Comments

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  • Reply

    PgcDave

    2 months ago

    I agree that the self-help industry is definitely flawed at times. People are looking for some sort of information or advice to fill that missing void in their lives that will all of the sudden jolt them into ultimate greatness. It doesn’t work like that.
     
    I was very in to self-help for a while. Read all the books, listened to the advice, and followed it. It is very easy to get caught up in analysis paralysis because there is an endless string of information on this subject. There is always more to learn and always more “guru’s” to teach it.
     
    But the prime belief is important. The belief that your success and ultimate destiny is YOUR responsibility. You cannot count on reading some book and immediately changing your life forever. You need to take action and change yourself and forge your own path. Once I embraced the prime belief, I noticed that I lost interest in most of the self-help material. Ever since, I’ve been more focused on taking action and learning from my mistakes and victories.
     
    A lot of the information is the same recycled material. Eventually you need to put it down and just start acting, or you will go nowhere.
     
    At the same time, it is always refreshing to see writers like yourself with such an honest, no-bullshit take on this subject. There’s no wishy-washy mythical stuff. You cut to the chase and that’s why people keep coming back to your site. You inspire action, and I think that is essential in terms of helping people. In an industry where it feels like everything can be a scam, we need more people like you to paint the right picture.

    • Reply

      TheNotoriousPhd

      2 months ago

      @PgcDave There’s certainly value to taking action, and it’s better than simply reading self-help books. But even that doesn’t cut it. 
       
      The problem is self-acceptance. You could be The Most Interesting Man in the world, with six-pack abs, worldly, and well-traveled. And yet, if you have low self-esteem you will still look in the mirror and see an incomplete person.

      • Reply

        Jon 111

        2 months ago

        @TheNotoriousPhd  @PgcDave 
         
        Yeah, but an incomplete person with a six pack.

    • Reply

      David

      14 weeks ago

      Some of us are just baffled at why you need(ed) a pure materialist to take your money, to understand such simplicity! I don’t even mind implicating that those who search for self-help are incredibly stupid… One may wish to be kinder, and say it’s insecurity, not stupidity. Um, trying to fool who with semantics? It’s hard to see any human who doesn’t have something, even horribly wrong in terms of insecurities. However, those that seek self-help seem to miss stuff on the left, right, above, below, NESW, written in bold letters on signs, again, obvious shit. Ergo, stupid, (in at least that sense). It really is a sickness. Sick is the person who wants or needs to learn from snake-oil sales people! And mostly, sick is the person who needs to be used, abused, ie. COMMODIFIED (as a client), to be OPEN/ED to wake-up to simple realities. The best things in life are free, der fred, particularly shit simple PHILOSOPHY. Shit, I’ve given uncountable thousands of hours of advice and/or philosophy, and mostly the existence of the self-help industry has taught me how corrupt I could be. Here’s some self-help, to the arseholes who profit from it; be a hero and take what’s free and make it freer, not vice-versa! Fuck, how many nobodies burning carbon non-stop, being treated as royalty around the globe, just for the least original blah-blah in all humanity!? Give us a break.
      Thanks to the ancient Indians & Chinese for giving it to us, and fuck, primarily yanks for stealing it & being playboys with it. Good day. :)

  • Reply

    ZacChamp

    2 months ago

    “What does bother me though is that in the self help market, you have a market not just of uninformed customers, but a market of customers who genuinely have negative self-perceptions and low self-esteem, therefore they always assume it’s their fault that they didn’t get the results they wanted. This goes a little bit beyond simple ignorance and rubs up against the unethical at times.”
     
    This was always one of my biggest hangups with PUA gurus and what many end up doing to awkward, lonely, desperate men who really need real help.

    • Reply

      LizLeia

      2 months ago

      @ZacChamp Agreed! And what’s worse, many gurus will actively blame the customer who doesn’t get result, either through telling them that they have the “wrong” mindset, or aren’t “taking enough action.” The latter has happened to me personally, even though I was taking action, but said action was yielding no result. Very frustrating!

  • Reply

    ZacChamp

    2 months ago

    Also, how are you going to be so hard on Tapping….?

    • Reply

      GetIntoEnglish

      2 months ago

      @ZacChamp Do you guys know if there’s been any studies on tapping? I knew a guy who did it with a coach, but he had very deep esteem issues, doubt it did much for him..

      • Reply

        postmasculine

        2 months ago

        @GetIntoEnglish  @ZacChamp It’s been years but I saw a pretty conclusive study that showed tapping to be no more effective than a placebo. With that said, placebos have a surprisingly good track record.

  • Reply

    Docter

    2 months ago

    Absolutely relevant speech I watched recently: http://vimeo.com/10601416. One of the most perspective-shifting things I’ve heard since…. well since I bought Models over a year ago haha (thanks Mark!).

  • Reply

    derekscruggs

    2 months ago

    I agree 1000% with all of this. I’ve seen several therapists over the years and gotten some good things from it, but it wasn’t until my most recent, whom I saw for about 18 months, that it all really started clicking into place for me. Now it’s much easier to apply self-help materials.

  • Reply

    alexp77

    2 months ago

    Interesting post Mark
     
    Could you perhaps elaborate on what you mean by integrating past social traumas? I had some bad incidents growing up and always imagined that I would end up talking about them if I were to see a therapist. But I’m never sure how it would actually help me to do so. So what exactly do you mean by to “integrate” past traumas? Thanks

    • Reply

      postmasculine

      2 months ago

      @alexp77 It’s important to externalize these experiences to get proper perspective on them and accept them as a part of yourself. I think it’s easiest to just use a personal example of mine. 
       
      I was a rebellious kid. I got kicked out of school when I was 13 for having drugs. Up until then I had been very socially confident and popular (after all, I was the school drug dealer, everyone was nice to me). 
       
      When I got kicked out, as you can imagine, I got in serious trouble. I finished the year home schooled and wasn’t allowed to see any of my friends. Because of this, word got around to my friend’s parents, and since my friends were involved in the same kind of stuff, THEY got in trouble too, so all of my friends started hating me. 
       
      On top of that, my parents sent me to a small, rich private school where I did not fit in at all and where I spent most of the time being teased and ignored my first year there. 
       
      So just to recap, from ages 13 to 15, I lost all my friends, became hated by most of my friends, was sent to a new school where nobody liked me. 
       
      It never even occurred to me how this may be traumatizing until I saw a therapist. It also never occurred to me that this is what informed my very strong anxieties and beliefs about meeting random strangers. I always felt like I needed a reason or excuse to talk to someone I didn’t know. It never occurred to me that I could talk to whomever I wanted whenever I wanted. 
       
      This didn’t cure the anxiety, but it showed me that my previous beliefs were not objective fact. It showed me that I had some irrational fears and because I was now aware of them, I could work on them through taking action. 
       
      And yeah, the process of discovering this, there was a lot of, “Hey, I’m OK… Some bad shit happened to me but I’m OK now and I can work on this.” Self acceptance, which helped me feel better about it and feel better about myself.

  • Reply

    dannyfries

    2 months ago

    Mark I enjoyed this article because I’m in a phase of “dissociating” from self-help. The timing is coincidental - I was reading this great article yesterday http://www.gwern.net/The%20Melancholy%20of%20Subculture%20Society, which then directed me to this one by Paul Graham http://paulgraham.com/nerds.html. My first thoughts ran back to some of your posts on the BMS forums (where you share your opinions of RSD and their philosophy). I believe this “culture fractionation” will continue as kids get online at an earlier age.
     
    Maybe you can help me pull these ideas together. A hypothetical timeline might go something like: any “nerd” group in public education takes to technology to find an identity/subculture, non-nerds continue through the standard education route. Inevitably some nerds will be fine socially because they have their subculture identity, and some non-nerds will be successful because they are smart enough to be white collar professionals. As technology advances and the pressure to become doctors/lawyers/engineers is not worth the effort, nerds will find subcultures very early and the fraction of non-nerds who can run the gauntlet of Ivy League education begins to shrink. Those individuals who Gwern calls “stragglers” are, in my mind, the people who are most likely to be of the Bad-to-OK mindset and therefore the most likely to discovered self-help without first having The Prime Belief.
     
    As Gwern points out, any “master” only reached mastery through some degree effort justification (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effort_justification), and in the process of communicating this justification, they can attract the weak-minded into believing that its a necessary precursor to happiness.
     
    Ideas are all over the place…  but I think they’re connected.
     
    “Be skeptical. Be selfish. And be ruthless.”  Indeed.

    • Reply

      postmasculine

      2 months ago

      @dannyfries I don’t think it’s as clear cut as this. Individuals differ quite a bit. Genetics are involved. Social environments are involved. Random occurrences are involved. People change as they age. Some nerds become very social and happy. Others don’t. Some young kids with great childhoods are miserable most of their lives. There’s too much going on with each individual to make any definition model out of this stuff, imo.

  • Reply

    BesskiLivius

    2 months ago

    I think there is nothing wrong with self help as long as we approach it with little bit of skepticism (as you mentioned in this article). The way I see it, is people wanting to share their experiences, their knowledge, their life lessons and overall what “the self-help creators” feel that has had an impact in their lives. The Guru’s want to help, and yes make some money as well, but they really want to help others in the way they can.
     
    Now, the problem with it is that it’s very subjective (as you mentions as well) and most often not backed up by scientific proof. This being the reason why when consuming self-help materials we need to approach it as another anecdote that we can learn from, but which really needs to be adapted to our OWN life later on, because the creators life and the consumers life are two different lives, as much as we’d love to think that they are very similar.
     
    So, I believe that it’s perfectly fine to read, watch, listen to any self help as long as we filter it through our own reasoning and life experience.

    • Reply

      Jon 111

      2 months ago

      @BesskiLivius I respectfully disagree.  Something that must be filtered through our own experience is not what most people want from self-help, nor should they.  To illustrate the point, think of a related field: exercise advice.  I would do an exercise program like Starting Strength, or P90X, precisely because I don’t have the personal experience to know what I am doing.  But, there’s enough of a professional and scientific community around fitness that I can evaluate a program, commit to it, and put myself in their hands.  
       
      With some self-help techniques, I can do this too.  Mindfulness meditation has benefits that have been established by science.  All I have to do is pick a meditation book that has gotten good reviews from trustworthy sources, and I can follow the advice.  Based on my life experience, there’s not much reason to think meditation works – if I have never meditated before my life experience and reasoning might well make me think “what the hell is the point of sitting and counting my breath? and why should I have an erect posture? Does that matter?”
       
      With other self help books, I can’t just follow the instructions and trust that it will steer me well.  Which isn’t to say that I expect to ever be totally uncritical, but if I don’t have a sense of “give this a try, see if this works” then the utility drops.

  • Reply

    GetIntoEnglish

    2 months ago

    Nice article, and appreciate the ‘woo’ reference, haha.
    So much to say. My biggest pet peeve with self-help is when authors, esp certain American ones imply it’s ALWAYS your fault when something goes wrong. It creates guilt and exaccerbates someone’s weaknesses.
    I get it that we are in control of ‘our zone’ but if someone has something bad happen to them, occasionally it’s just a case of wrong place, wrong time.
    A post on how some self-help bloggers cash in and perpetuate some of this would make great reading

  • Reply

    kglad

    2 months ago

    Good stuff here.  Just discovered Brene Brown and am also a fan.  I wouldn’t classify everything “woo woo” as bullshit, though.  Feng shui has been in practice for a few thousand years… it’s just only made it’s way here in the West recenlty. There’s a lot that is solid and practical in there (as well as some woo woo).   Also, I can attest that tapping works.  And it’s free! You can find out how to do it on youtube and see for yourself.   That said, they are not cure-alls. Also, since it’s not science, there are a lot of people out there claiming to be “experts” selling BS. Use common sense.  And try it for yourself.
     
    As a former self-help junkie, I appreciate the skepticism and no-nonsense approach.  Ultimately the two things that DO seem to work are a support network (men’s group… 12 step.. church…family.. close friends, etc..), a group of people you can go to for support, where you can be honest, and where you will be challenged and held accountable by other honest people who care about you.  The other is action.  I almost think it doesn’t matter what self-help book you use, as long as you actually spend a sustained amount of time doing the things it says to do.  You are bound to see change when you commit to consistent action.
     
    Those are my thoughts.  Thanks for the article!

  • Reply

    Max Nachamkin

    2 months ago

    Agree with you here, Mark. I was a victim of reading so much self-help stuff for the last  4 years, and didn’t realize how it was affecting my self-image just by reading all of these things I need to improve on. Just by seeing all the stuff I wasn’t incorporating right, it put me deeper into a hole of self-doubt. 
     
    When people get into personal development I tell them to not read so much into it. Pick a topic that you wish to improve on and then focus on it. Love yourself and who you are — you don’t want to change who you are, you just want to become the best version of yourself. That’s the goal.
     
    Along with self help and personal development it’s important to have a community. I tried to do it on my own, but it was difficult to keep myself motivated. The only way it works is if I surround myself with positive people who care about personal development too and offer a different perspective. This was especially important when I was in the “Bad-to-OK” phase.
     
    Anyways, great article..can definitely relate to this.

  • Reply

    LizLeia

    2 months ago

    Hi Mark,
    Thank you so much for writing this! I’m part of the “self-help umbrella” too and have had similar gripes with our industry. This really sums it up perfectly, and so articulately. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I will be sharing and linking to this as much as possible. :)

  • Reply

    Chris Shepherd

    2 months ago

    Great post man. 
     
    One thing that I have found is that there are some bad self-help guys out there who actively reinforce the feeling of inadequacy that a lot of self-help fans experience and take advantage of it. That is the stuff that I really disagree with, 
     
    But in the end, I think GOOD self help isn’t just good, it’s necessary. Socrates and Plato and the early philosophers were pretty much just ancient self-help gurus, and philosophy, psychology and self-help were once basically the same thing. However, in the past hundred years philosophy has turned into an academic circle jerk, psychology has become a form of medicine – only for the sick, and you pay for treatment, and then the remainder, the philosophical look at how to cultivate personal virtue and live the “good life” has been given the patronizing name of self-help and has been lumped in with the crystal wearing new age bullshit artists. 
     
    Anyway, that’s what I think self-help SHOULD be…. not that it really is like that now.

    • Reply

      Chris Shepherd

      2 months ago

      That last sentence is a bit of a non-sequeter. What I meant is that self help should be in the tradition of Socrates. Not that it should be lumped in with crystal wearing bullshit artists.

    • Reply

      postmasculine

      2 months ago

      @Chris Shepherd “One thing that I have found is that there are some bad self-help guys out there who actively reinforce the feeling of inadequacy that a lot of self-help fans experience and take advantage of it. That is the stuff that I really disagree with, ”
       
      Yeah, there are some out there and it’s really disgusting to watch.

  • Reply

    Jon 111

    2 months ago

    It seems like a particularly big problem is upselling – the need to convince people they need one more self-help product, or personal coaching, or to go to a live event, etc etc.  Tony Robbins is really egregious about this.

    • Reply

      postmasculine

      2 months ago

      @Jon 111 Yeah. I <3 Tony Robbins but I can’t stand his marketing and some of his gimmicks.

  • Reply

    Kevin Cole

    2 months ago

    I really enjoyed this post. A lot of people (myself included) indulge in self-help. It feels almost therapeutic to have someone else giving you all the answers. We all need some form of guidance in life, whether that be a friend, mentor, or spouse, but ultimately everything falls back onto ourselves. I didn’t really hit my stride with dating until I stopped trying to be “on” all the time and started focusing on being myself as confidently as I can be.. At the end of the day you have to know that your shit stinks too. It’s liberating.

  • Reply

    RichardMueller

    2 months ago

    Great article, but I don’t like your fourth point: The only relation between science and Neuro-Linguistic Programming is, that science proves Neuro-Linguistic Programming is bullshit. See for example http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/ppb.2010.41.issue-2/v10059-010-0008-0/v10059-010-0008-0.xml

    • Reply

      postmasculine

      2 months ago

      @RichardMueller There are individual pieces of NLP that are based on or have been sucked into science (mostly with anchoring and perceptual biases). But yeah, wide swaths of it are BS.

    • Reply

      Joao Antunes

      2 months ago

      @RichardMueller Almost everything related to NLP is science based, however, and like your article concluded it promises speed and effectiveness when it doesn’t work like that even when the techniques are extremely well made: 
       
      - “Reframe” is a famous therapeutic technique popularized in couples therapy. However all the “reframing” NLP promotes goes a little bit far of the original concept.
       
      - Anchoring is scientific but the way NLP puts it is premium version of pure snake oil. Seriously. It takes a probability of 1 in a million for an NLP anchor to work (ROFL on the myth “Anchor the word chocolate and she will orgasm whenever you say that word”)
       
      - NLP’s little baby, the “eye cueing” is extremely limited.
       
      Those are just some examples. My take on this is that there’s some value to NLP. Some principles of it are gold. Some techniques work decent, others not so decent. You can take 10% of value from NLP. That’s it.

      • Reply

        RichardMueller

        2 months ago

        @Joao Antunes Witkowski concludes in his article: “The article presents the concept of NLP in the light of empirical research in the Neuro-Linguistic Programming Research Data Base. [..] Results contradict the claim of an empirical basis of NLP.”
         
        It is not about examples, principles, or techniques.
        They all are build upon an underlying theory.
        It is about the underlying theory.
        Which simply does not hold, according to empirical research.

      • Reply

        Jon 111

        2 months ago

        @Joao Antunes  @RichardMueller The parts of NLP that “work” are the parts of NLP that are directly lifted from mainstream psychology.  
         
        Another pet peeve (common among the PUA types) is referring to things as “NLP concepts” when they are in fact psychology or linguistics concepts.  
         
        Framing is not an NLP concept.  It’s a concept used in psychology, cognitive linguistics, and behavioral economics, that is borrowed by NLP.

  • Reply

    Original Jammer

    2 months ago

    “And then, of course, there’s the marketing. Not much needs to be said here. But in case you didn’t know, you can make millions, lose 50 pounds, have a perfect relationship and be happy 24/7 if you just sign up for this quick and easy program, for three installments of $79.95, money back guaranteed. But act now! Only 3 spots left!”
     
    Money is nothing if there’s nothing to spend it on
    I can’t lose 50 pounds or I’ll be dead
    My relationship is far from perfect (there’s no such thing), but I like it
    Being happy 24/7 will lead to boredom. I don’t like boredom.
     
    No thanks.
     
    P.S. What is tapping?

  • Reply

    atbrady

    2 months ago

    Really enjoyed your post Mark.  As a leadership development consultant, I too reluctantly fall into the “self-help” basket.  I often say that my biggest competition is not the great leadership development consultants, but those folks who come in with grand promises of success in a day.  Also, I couldn’t agree more with your sentiments on Tony Robbins.  Much of what he is saying is quality stuff, but his marketing is akin to a used car salesman.

  • Reply

    skooloflife

    2 months ago

    Hey Mark 
     
    First off, the site redesign looks fabulous. Looks like you did a few more updates since I was last here. I really appreciated this post.   You definitely pointed out some major flaws in the whole industry. Part of the reason I never reviewed the Landmark Forum on my blog was because, I wanted to see what things would be like after the “high” wore off. You’re right that you can’t fix a lifetime of problems in a weekend. People want the magic pill so somebody goes out and sells it.
     
    I think the discovery that you’re a bigger loser than you initially thought is actually what turns self help into a self destructive effort. 
     
    I love that you brought up research based work. I recently came across a book called The Happiness Advantage that you might enjoy. It’s probably the most practical research based book I’ve come across and the ideas in it seem to really be effective.

  • Reply

    Nicholas1959

    2 months ago

    Intersting topic and right up your alley.  I have been an off and on consumer of various self-help products (including several of your products) for about 10 years.  I think it is useful to consider self-help as just one form of all “help.”
     
    First, I think, it matters what the consumer or patients “presenting complaint” is and how serious and entrenched the issues are.  A young woman suffering borderline personality disorder will have developed neural pathways / defense mechanisms that make self-help ineffective.  However I think a self-help course on learning to be a better listener or conversationalist can be very helpful.  In fact, fMRI studies have shown that new neural pathways can be developed in as little as a dozen hours of practicing a new skill / technique.
     
    Second, I think it matters how the help is provided.  The shame-based borderline will need a lot of help to slowly deconstruct the destructive defense mechanisms built up over her formative years – that means a skilled professional in a face-to-face setting.  On the other hand, I took your conversation course (a lot cheaper than psychotherapy) and got what I paid for.  But I think there is an in-between that might gain traction in the near future.  That is professionally led or coached self-help.
     
    Here’s what I mean by that.  I received no feedback when I did the conversation course, so I am not sure I was “getting it right.”  What if there was an option to have a trained coach provide that feedback and make corrections?  Same thing for other (perhaps more serious) conditions.  I read a study of professionally coached self help for anxiety disorders that showed promising results.
     
    You identifiied the problem with most self-help.  The products are not required to prove to do anything for anyone.  The supplement industry is the same way.  So are televangelists telling oldsters to send the money they would have spent on medications to the televangelist who will pray for them instead.  Unfortunately, the most desperate for relief / improvement will be most gullible to outrageous marketing and absurd claims.

  • Reply

    AnnB

    2 months ago

    There will always be people who exploit others in any business, yet relying on scientific evidence to prove which techniques work (and there are recent studies to show EFT/Tapping is successful) is to me in itself flawed as most science is theoretical because it is so often disproven by other scientists. I think a close relation to EFT is Scenar as it focuses on the body’s meridians and it was invented by Russian scientists for their space programme; you can’t get much more scientific than that!

    • Reply

      Nicholas1959

      2 months ago

      @AnnB Anne, you start by saying scientific evidence is bunk and end by citing… scientific evidence???    If tapping and EFT work for you, go for it!  Maybe for me it’s chanting affirmations or some other “convenient belief.”  But if you are reading this on Postmasculine, it demonstrates that the scientists who used scientific method to understand the physics underlying microchips, electron flow and internetworking…were right.  There is large acceptance of that science – and you are using it now.  It is true that the origins of certain diseases and how they function, among many things, are still not well undertood, and there will be false starts and controversy.  But it will be the scientific method, not willpower, that finally untangles the mysteries.

      • Reply

        AnnB

        2 months ago

        @Nicholas1959  Yes, that was the point I was making! It is what you ultimately believe in and one new scientific theory often contradicts a previous one, even when one gets disproved people still believe it (such as the controversy over the MMR vaccine in the UK for instance). However MP seems to think only ‘scientific’ evidence is valid, hence I gave him some :-)

        • Reply

          Nicholas1959

          2 months ago

          @AnnB Well theories get disproved, thats why we call them theories, not laws.  That’s healthy and scientific and good.  But Einstein didn’t disprove Newton, he refined Newton.  Recent developments at CERN have further refined, but also largely affirmed, Einstein. 
           
          I don’t care how much you believe in your ability to fly, jump off a tall building and the ground will prove you wrong.  The fact that we don’t understand ALL of nature does not mean we do not understand a lot.

      • Reply

        AlexanderRose

        2 months ago

        @Nicholas1959  
         
        Without willpower the scientific method cannot function.

        • Reply

          Nicholas1959

          2 months ago

          @AlexanderRose Dude, I’d like to engage in some meaningful convo, but I am lost.  I may be slow, wouldn’t be the first time.  But I don’t understand – help me out, what does that mean?

        • Reply

          AlexanderRose

          2 months ago

          @Nicholas1959 “But it will be the scientific method, not willpower, that finally untangles the mysteries. ”
           
          Everything starts with willpower. The attitude of scientists is they want everything scientifically proven before they will believe it, yet, they reject evidence form people who say it works as anecdotal evidence. A lot of these things cannot be easily reproduced, but yet a shitload of people swear that it works, yet science turns a blind eye to it because it can’t be substantiated by the rules of the scientific method.
           
          The classic term – seeing is believing. but the problem is a lot of these things outside the realm of science must be believed in order to be seen. A lot of things even in the realm of science need to be believed.
           
          If you don’t believe you can do mathematics you never will. Yet, every human is the same. their brains are capable of excelling at it. The problem is in the lack of belief. It has a massive impact on how the person functions on any given situation.
           
          I’ll use the PUAHate guys as an example. They perceive themselves to be ugly. They suck with women. Society helps them with the belief that “ugly guys can’t get hot women.” Yet, we’ve ALL seen hot women with ugly guys and thought “wtf?” But these guys IGNORE ALL THAT. Why? Get ready for the science. Reticular Activation System. Because they believe that ugly guys don’t get hot girls that’s all they see, and their brain ignores ALL the evidence contrary to that.
           
          There’s tons of science there, but it’s being missed because of the more woo woo-ish details that science can’t completely prove yet.

        • Reply

          Halo Effect

          2 months ago

          @AlexanderRose  @Nicholas1959
           
          “Everything starts with willpower. The attitude of scientists is they want everything scientifically proven before they will believe it, yet, they reject evidence form people who say it works as anecdotal evidence. A lot of these things cannot be easily reproduced, but yet a shitload of people swear that it works, yet science turns a blind eye to it because it can’t be substantiated by the rules of the scientific method.”
           
          A rational scientist will not believe something when there is absolutely no reason to believe something. But that doesn’t mean a scientist will not test anything that is not scientifically proven. Scientists test things that they are not sure of to see how reality works, guided by what they know to be true thus far.
           
          There has been a lot of research into paranormal abilities. Nothing has ever been found. Homeopathy has been researched and found to be bogus.
           
          You say that a lot of things cannot be easily reproduced, but you are actually wrong. It has been proven, scientifically, that people can feel better, happier, feel less pain, and countless other benefits, from pills that actually do nothing. Those are called placebos. That means that if you feel better after a medicin, technique or therapy that has no basis in science whatsoever, it does not prove that it works. It may just be a placebo effect. Therefore, you experiencing benefits from something “alternative” is not proof that it is effective. For something to be deemed effective by scientists, it must work better than a placebo.
           
          Another thing that is easily reproduced is how people can read an unspecific, general horoscope and believe it is incredibly specific and accurately describes them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forer_effect. So, in other words, if some tarot card reader, horoscope or psychic manages to impress you by describing you accurately, this means nothing, because very simple tricks are enough to produce this effect.
           
          You talk about how we ignore evidence when it goes against our beliefs. People on the “woo woo” front are very guilty of this. They use science to support their views, and ignore everything that negates their views. For what it’s worth, I would LOVE it if some magic therapy existed that cured everybody in no time. FUCKING LOVE IT! I have tried various alternative therapies myself, even. But I’ve never been impressed.

    • Reply

      tjrjr

      2 months ago

      Science is a tool for understanding the mechanisms of the physical world. It will not help you understand how to live.

  • Reply

    Original Jammer

    2 months ago

    Mark and friends, tell me what you think about this article featuring Sean Stephenson.http://ikelove.articlealley.com/manmanifesting-abundance–the-secret-behind-the-law-of-attraction-that-only-the-masters-know-1633997.html
    CTRL + Q to Enable/Disable GoPhoto.it

    • Reply

      Jon 111

      2 months ago

      @Original Jammer What I think is that it’s amazing that somebody expects us to believe that a guy in a wheelchair is talking about manifesting, and when people asked for a demonstration they didn’t say “manifest walking.”  Seriously, how is that not like the first thing anyone who was skeptical would say.

    • Reply

      Jon 111

      2 months ago

      @Original Jammer I think its made up, and I seriously think if anyone was going to ask Sean Stephenson to manifest, they’d start with “get up and walk.”

  • Reply

    AlexanderRose

    2 months ago

    I’m honestly at a point where I will not tolerate writing like this. This is a few notches away from PUAHate or PUAFraud. I would consider myself a Bad-to-Great person thanks to self help, and know many who are the same.
     
    The problem with science is that they believe everything in the universe can be quantified in the understanding of people who up until a couple hundred years ago didn’t even have much technology. And if someone refutes that “Yes, this does work!” It’s dismissed as anecdotal evidence and ignored.
     
    So basically get ready to judge my entire comment as simple “anecdotal” evidence which you can simply disregard, however, for me it works. I know what works, and pretty much anything to the contrary is not of interest to me. You yourself ‘claim’ to be a graduate of the self-help world. Which were you, Bad-to-OK, or OK-to-Great?
     
    Personally I think there’s something going on here that is emotional behind articles like these. The guys over at PUAHate are disgruntled ex-PUAs who didn’t get the results they wanted MOST LIKELY because they didn’t take enough steps and didn’t change their beliefs. It’s apparent in their writing. Nearly every post on there is filled with bullshit like “Looks are the only thing that matters.. If you’re ugly you’re not getting hot girls, period.”
     
    To me, those who don’t make it, simply don’t make it because they didn’t want it bad enough, or they have serious psychological issues which according to some may not even be psychological in nature but more about severe imbalances in their body due to poor nutrition. It doesn’t matter if there’s 100+ years of research into something. If there’s 5 years research into something THAT WORKS, that’s all that matters, that it works and results can be repeated.
     
    If you think about it the ratio of those in the self-help community who actually get to where they are great people is pretty damn close to the amount of people who achieve millionaire status or the amount of people who make it to pro football. That right there says something. That’s a pattern. Out of a bunch of people doing something there’s going to be a select few who do what it takes and don’t quit.
     
    I know of guys who went to a bootcamp made great progress and were kicking ass and then six months later are in the same place they were. When I asked what happened, I hear that they didn’t do shit after they got back, they went back to their sedentary lifestyle where they don’t go out and meet women. OF COURSE they went back to how they were. It takes making it a lifestyle, like dieting or anything else. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.
     
    But personally I highly disapprove with these kinds of things because people read this and believe it and it is circumventing them from being helped. Lives are being lost to hopelessness because of these kinds of negative articles. Sorry but that’s pretty much my take on it. I know for a fact PUAHate has caused a massive dent in our ability to help men in the world because people find them and believe them.
     
    I’m not angry and this is not some defensive rant. This is simply the truth. There is a minority of people who are truly willing and capable of doing whatever it takes to be successful. It’s always been true, and it always will be true.
     
    Self-help works. You achieve permanent results through consistent practice. Not through inconsistent taking a seminar and only doing shit while you’re at the seminar. Take martial arts as a example. When I took Kung Fu and I only did it while I was in class at the kung fu school, I was no where near as good as when I practiced on my own, every day, outside of class. Same thing. And even if years later you stop doing it you will regress.
     
    The other thing is that most people in the ‘community’ perpetuate the limiting belief that, for example, you can’t get rid of approach anxiety forever. And then it gets more complex because there are multiple reasons why people have it, and some of them are good reasons, and under certain situations you will always feel approach anxiety, and that can be a good thing. However, the ones caused by simply not being comfortable yet in what you’ve basically never done to any degree of time to become comfortable with it, can be removed. The ones caused by childhood/adolescent trauma or even post-adolescent trauma, can be removed. With Hypnosis, tapping and other things. I am proof.
     
    I recommend all readers to seek out Technoslaughter’s talk about how the brain works and why hypnosis, tapping, etc. works to remove negative message units and implant positive ones. It’s quite scientific, he’s a medical doctor (M.D.) and like I said, I’m living proof. LOL Nothing else to say.

    • Reply

      Jon 111

      2 months ago

      @AlexanderRose Well if doctor technoslaughter says it, I must believe it.

    • Reply

      Jon 111

      2 months ago

      @AlexanderRose The odds of people in the self help community achieving their goals are, according to you, akin to becoming a millionaire or a professional athlete.  But the odds of somebody outside the self-help community achieving their goals is no lower than this – which makes me ask, does self help work, or does hard work work, regardless of whether one is inside or outside of the self-help community.  You say scientists disregard anecdotal evidence.  The problem is you are ignoring the difference between causation and correlation.  You used self help, and got better.  But how do we know one thing had to do with the other?

    • Reply

      derekscruggs

      2 months ago

      @AlexanderRose The article is called “5 Problems with Self Help,” not “Self Help is a complete waste of time and never works.” In the very first paragraph he states that self help has helped millions of people.
       
      I believe Mark’s point is that you should be cognizant of certain tendencies  – in the industry and in yourself — and not just accept claims uncritically.

  • Reply

    RatisseEclaire

    2 months ago

    “Here’s what is complete bullshit: Feng shui, manifestations, tarot cards, telekinesis, psychics, crystals, power animals, tapping, the law of attraction, anything supernatural or woo woo”
    Debunk this mark.
    http://psychicandastrology.psychicguild.com/gather-news/clairvoyant-helps-find-body-of-missing-phuket-boy/

    • Reply

      postmasculine

      2 months ago

      @RatisseEclaire One lady finding one kid in the middle of Thailand, whether true or not, does not make a good model to help thousands of people.

      • Reply

        derekscruggs

        2 months ago

        @postmasculine  @RatisseEclaire I do not believe in psychics, but I do believe that encounters with these kinds of people *can* be enlightening. Though some are straight-up hucksters and should be avoided, others do seem to have a gift for empathy. And so they see things in you that you may not see in yourself (perhaps many things — we all have blind spots).
         
        I am an atheist materialist to the core, but recently I stopped caring whether I could debunk someone’s claims a priori. Instead I just go for the experience and try to integrate whatever rings true, discarding the rest.
         
        A great date is to take a girl to a psychic. Even if what the psychic says is 100% bunk, it’s still a fun experience. (A movie is 100% bunk too, but still quite entertaining.)

  • Reply

    postmasculine

    2 months ago

    I find it a little odd that the major criticism of this article is the idea that self help should be based on scientific testing.

  • Reply

    RatisseEclaire

    2 months ago

    Hey mark, I do agree with you that self help can hurt people, BUT in the cases where there own thoughts chose to control them and now they feel broken.
     
    “Here’s what is complete bullshit: manifestations”
     
     manifest: to appear in visible form (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/manifest)
     
    Everyone manifests. It starts out as a vision in your mind then you create it. I can name off lots of examples. Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Michael Jordan, etc….
     
    By definition, you contradicted yourself.
     
    You had a vision for this site and you had it MANIFESTED into existence. 
     
    Same as I manifested my “alter ego” Ratisse.

    • Reply

      postmasculine

      2 months ago

      @RatisseEclaire Manifestation refers to a specific self help practice or idea, not the dictionary definition. :P

  • Reply

    ether

    2 months ago

    Mark,
     
     I tend to lurk and enjoy your articles but this one was ….. boring? maybe, dunno but I confess I could not even finish it,
    It  seems something about your style has changed….it lacked crispness for me, those crisp thoughts that are a turn on. This article seems like an attack of E.D. flatline.
    I’m noticing  comments are appearing and disappearing…dude, are you censoring…? I know it’s your space but isn’t censoring one of those things that turn people off from america, so they take off to live around the world?
     
    I’m questioning your congruence buddy…..looking forward to the next post after you clean out the cobwebs and get your flow back.
     
    p.s. i used eft to quit smoking…..all smokers know: no placebo fixes that, just sayin’
     
    I think that study you read was shit.
    deuces

    • Reply

      postmasculine

      2 months ago

      @ether Placebos work (some of the time), that’s why they’re placebos. 
       
      As for censorship. This is a privately owned website. I’m perfectly fine with dissent and disagreement, but there are some people who have worn out their welcome.

    • Reply

      Dominique

      14 weeks ago

      Great comment! So true!

  • Reply

    jeffjeff

    2 months ago

    Overall I agree with the dangers of it. I do think that the last point goes a little too far. Part of this though is that I’m thinking of the person who is emotionally unstable who thinks, I don’t need help. I.e. the alcoholic that says, I’m fine the way I am. I would make a slightly different point about the solution coming from ourself: that doesn’t mean we also don’t need outside help. For example, seeing a therapist or coach (depending on an issue) can be very necessary to processing an issue we are having and reorienting a point of view. This doesn’t mean it comes from outside, but rather that they can act as a necessary guide in the walk

  • Reply

    jeffjeff

    2 months ago

    @AnnB  @postmasculine AnnB Please stop encouraging Mark’s stalker.  If a girl’s stalker was posting on her blog, that type of provocation would be met with appall.

  • Reply

    ZacChamp

    2 months ago

    No thank you. I deleted my other comment because I realized it wasn’t something I wanted to comment on.

  • Reply

    dafunker

    2 months ago

    Thank you Mark, great article!

  • Reply

    tjrjr

    2 months ago

    The easy rule with “self-help” is check what has lasted well over a century. Why fuck around with idiots like Napolean Hill or Frued or Tony Robbins or Mark Mason when Aquinas, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche are on the next shelf? The former will be historical footnotes while the later will be around for ages.
     
    > no one can help you except yourself
     
    Not to shit on the whole atheist fornicator parade, but one of the essential ideas behind the clergy and organized religion is nobody can figure everything out on their own. Humans survive by division of labor and expertise, and knowlege of how to live rightly is its own area of expertise. Some of the more enlightened serve the magisterium to guide us all.

    • Reply

      timfraser123

      2 months ago

      @tjrjr You definitely could have put that more tactfully. Also, who’s to say that Napolean Hill, Freud, Tony Robbins or Mark Manson won’t last for more than a century? Why couldn’t someone have said the exact same things about Aquinas, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche in their time?

    • Reply

      postmasculine

      2 months ago

      @tjrjr I’m amused that you spelled Kierkegaard and Nietzsche correctly, but managed to screw up Freud and Manson. 
       
      The fact you’re even mentioning me in the same breath as these people makes me happy, even if it’s to criticize me.

  • Reply

    Andrew Paul Schettino

    2 months ago

    Not sure how I missed this puppy but I found it cleaning out old e-mails. In general, once again, I mostly am with you Mark. That pathetic losers become addicted to self-help and that it makes it worse for them—right on! I have “helped” neurotics who became more helpless and neurotic. Buddha’s observation that you should not interfere with people getting their suffering needs met is correct. But many modern self-help providers do effectively employ psychological research findings and more than a few also incorporate Eastern Philosophy insights and techniques. (I teach Tai Chi classes and that can be a form of self-help too.) So lighten up, dude… and have a nice day!

  • Reply

    Guill

    2 months ago

    “So what’s the point of all of this?

    It’s this: figure it out yourself.”

    So fucking true. Sometimes I finish a book and I’m so afraid to have misunderstood or forgot something. At the beginning it was uncontrollable. Now I always relax first, and then I write MY OWN summary of what I got from it. How it’s gonna help ME, how I, ME, understand it, and how it fit MY life. 600 pages usually end up in just 1 or 2 concepts, all the examples of the books are completely forgotten and I make my own examples out of my own life. No need to store any new things, just to retrieve MY stories.

  • Reply

    sheplogic

    23 weeks ago

    Take self help book’s with a pinch of salt and a dollop of scepticism

  • Reply

    Sylvia

    20 weeks ago

    Yes, yes and yes. Thanks so much for this article. I was a former self-help junkie. Now, I am realizing that the answers are something I figure out with life, mistakes, triumphs and time.

    Thanks Mark!
    Sylvia

  • Reply

    adi

    18 weeks ago

    I do agree that the majority of the self help industry is just hype. There are a lot of people making millions out of desperate and naive people however I do think there are some books that really do have useful information such as feel the fear and do it anyway by Susan Jeffers or the free self help book How to clean the shxt out of your life by Justin Lue such books do not offer a magical formula but inspire the reader to take practical steps to overcome their fears. Justin Lue actually has a section on the importance of embracing failure which I think is far more realistic than most of the nonsense out there like the secret which tells everything is a result of your thoughts. Self industry is a business and there are many pimps pushing their products which destroys it for those authors who have skmething useful tk share.

  • Reply

    Dominique

    14 weeks ago

    I agree with almost all of your article. I do however have to disagree with you lumping tarot cards into the “woo-woo” category. I happen to have my degree in psychology and I use tarot cards and tarot readings along with regular therapy on a day to day basis with my clients in order to encapsulate and help to boil down simple concepts like archetypes and the different facets that make up personality and influence motivation. There is quite a bit of scientific data behind this. I highly recommend reading Gods in Every Man and Goddesses in Every Woman. This work comes directly from Sigmund Freud via Karl Jung (which by the way aren’t self help books). I wouldn’t lump all modalities that others misuse or all modalities that you don’t personally understand into the “woo-woo” category. Otherwise, very intelligent article. I recommend against self-help books/seminars with my clients and often times have the tough job of having to help undo damage that has been done by them.

  • Reply

    Martin

    13 weeks ago

    Wow! What an interesting article! I’m a lot into self-help myself and I’m even considering building my own program. Not that the worlds needs one more program, but simply that TEACHING something is the best way to integrate it. So I’m doing it for myself first, not for others. As for having too many self-help programs on the planet, I believe 2 things. 1st, that it’s important to have diversity to find the program that will resonate with you the most. 2nd, that going through many different books or programs does have a purpose: it’s the repetition of a pattern that allows awareness and then correction of the problem.

  • Reply

    Steve

    8 weeks ago

    I’m actually really surprised that you consider the law of attraction BS. As someone who heard about it years ago and took it as capital T truth (I was in high school, give me a break!), I kind of though it made so much sense. I am definitely more skeptical about it these days but still seems to have some truth in it. What you focus on, and set your mind to (and work towards!) you’ll “attract” or experience. Besides some woo woo, weird manifesting-spirit-things, this all kinda makes decent logical sense.

    I also noticed a lot of your articles touch on the subject of intention and focusing on one thing, as opposed to something else.

    Could you clarify on this Mark? Although from 2009, heres an article I thought you might find interesting.
    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/175189

  • Reply

    postmasculine

    2 months ago

    @Elaine Enlightening This article has little to do with my own experience and more to do with the experiences of 1000′s of people I’ve observed.

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