Improving or Worsening ourselves with Self-Help Merchandise?

self help critique (3 articles) PRESENTATION (this is the power point attachment) 

Can you help yourself?  My personal answer is at the end =)

I have reviewed 3 articles that criticize self-help literature and merchandise.

The first  article from Vox entitled “I was a self-help guru. Here’s why you shouldn’t listen to people like me”  written by Michelle Woodman;

Woodman wrote:  “I learned the hard way that the people trying to solve your problems often need help the most. And that playing the expert guru is a hypocrite’s game, because practicing what you preach is tough.”

I would personally say, this happens to most or perhaps all of us: “IT IS EASIER TO SPOT THE PROBLEM IN THE OTHERS RATHER THE PROBLEM WITH OURSELVES.”

Well, Woodman went on to mention that she knew dating advice columnists who did not date, career experts who advocated for certain habits that they barely had, and the funniest example was a consultant alleging expertise in freelance income but had privately admitted he had no idea how much he made nor how to handle such money because his wife handled all his income.

The second article from The New Yorker entitled: “helping ourselves to death” written by Alexandra Schawrtz.

Schawrtz called The Secret of Rondha Byrne, a testament to the predatory optimism that characterized the years leading up to the financial crisis. “People dreamed big, and, in a day of easy money, found that their dreams could come true. Then the global economy crashed, and we were shaken violently awake.”

Schawrtz quoted Cederström, Spicer, Storrs and Sara Knights in her article.

Cedestron and Spicer  pinpoint that in a consumerist society we think “we must” buy the latest item. This bad mindset includes self-improvement merchandise. Which conveniently generates billions for the self-improvement industry. However, his criticism says that because of the constant new self-help merchandise we are unconsciously pushed to catch up (buy something that we do not even need).

On the other hand, Storr says that: “since it is our environment that is causing us to feel inferior, it is our environment that we must change: “The things we’re doing with our lives, the people we’re sharing it with, the goals we have. We should find projects to pursue which are not only meaningful to us, but over which we have control.” Storr acknowledges that to change every aspect of the world we inhabit is a daunting prospect.  And perhaps this is the reason why people “conform” to only change themselves instead.

Sara Knights calls herself a “bestselling anti-guru” and her favorite motto is “there is nothing wrong with you” She agrees with Storr that what is wrong is society.

The third article entitled “The Problem with Self Help” by Ray Williams.

William criticizes that the self-help gurus are self-appointed experts. And that there are no guidelines for self help books, not even the American Psychological Association has it. However, the APA has ethical standards that call for published materials to avoid exaggerations, sensationalism, misrepresentations, and superficiality.


And in addition, to these 3 articles, I have watched a you tube video from RICH ROLL, a corporate lawyer in California, who nowadays has a podcast:

Roll mentioned that: “the abundance of self-help literature nowadays almost force you get one and by reading it one sometimes gets this false sensation that one has helped himself/herself when in reality, one only read one more book.

And read an extra 4th article from psychology today entitled “ Which is better self-help or therapy”  written by Phillipa Perry.

Perry argues in favor of therapy by stating that “A book cannot possibly hear you; it will never be a conversation.” However, she acknowledges that “print has the weight of authority because spoken words can be ephemeral. Perry adds that self-help books are a much cheaper  option and don’t require appointments.” However, she also reminds us the importance of humans relations and therefore the impact of a human (therapist) in helping you unlike a nonliving being as is a book.

So, coming back to the initial question; Can you really help yourself?

There are some situations when one is not even aware that one needs help, therefore one cannot help oneself, BUT there are other situations where yes! One can help oneself =)



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