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Self help industry is booming

 article about danger self help books
Self-help books steadily occupy best-sellers lists. Are we so desperate for advice? Is where any help in between those soft and hard covers with promising slogan-like titles? Last weekend yours truly was looking for some new reading. Being a true admirer of books on paper, I still get perfect use of multiple advantages of our computerized age.

And when I need to find a book, I like to do some research online. Scrolling through the amazon.com list of best sellers, I made an interesting observation: five of ten books in the list were related to so-called self-help category. It appears, there are plenty of people seeking some kind of help, looking to improve anything from spiritual life (The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren) to body-mass index (The South Beach Diet by Arthur Agatston). Given the certain popularity of self-help books, I have a question to ask: are we really so desperate for any advise?

And if we are, is there any help in between those soft and hard covers with promising slogan-like titles? If we take a closer look, the self-help varieties fall into numerous sub-topics, which seem to respond almost to any aspect of human life. The self-improvement manuals may be handy for those who are addicted to improving the perfection of body or mind.

There are motivational books ready to boost your will, and volumes dedicated to fix your social and private relationships. Some topics, in my opinion, should not be the subject of self-help of any kind. Cases of social anxiety disorder, depression, abnormal eating patterns and such, needed to be addressed by professional during a personalized session. But, here they are: The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne, Ph.D.; Overcoming Anorexia Nervosa: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques by Chris Freeman, and many, many more.

On the other hand, such masterpieces as 100 habits of a good wife, 12 steps to happier self, How to be a perfect lover are as entertaining as they are impotent. Why? The reason is the people who write them. The author may live through the rehab, or add a number of abbreviations next to his name, but that does not necessarily make them an authority on the subject.

There is no such substance abuse practice or diploma, which can make anybody the authority to teach you to live your life. I, personally, view those pearls of wisdom as the authors own therapy: there is the search for acceptance by society (readers), the much needed closure after traumatic experiences, battles with phobias and complexes, rebuilding their own self. The profit for a book may come handy too.

The point is, self-help book writers are no different than any of their readers. Maybe this similarity is the reason we keep buying those books? Whatever the truth is, I have not heard anybody asking this question. Self-help sells, and its sells well, the self-help industry is here to stay, be it good or bad.

There is hardly a general topic magazine without a write-in advise column. Life couches, advisers, and planners ready to help you in any kind of challenge you may stumble over on your way. Dr. Phil McGraws fast growing national-wide practice, is ready to treat us with all means possible, starting from his self-help books and the show, securely nested in the prime-time hour, to dietary food items. Dr. Phil hits all the society hot buttons, starting from the relationships within families, to weight-loss challenges.

Feels like some kind of psychological fast food: McGraws: Come troubled, leave happy! Good or not, the multiple self-help guides and shows can serve only as a humble band-aid strip, covering your psychological wound, rather than healing it. There is much more helpful resource for self-evaluation, self-improvement and aid: your family and friends. They are people who knows you, and, most important, treat you as a unique personality, and will not operate with general concepts and universal templates.

Next time, when you find yourself buying a new self-help manual, or reaching for a remote to tune on one of those TV sessions, call a close friend or relative instead; maybe plan a get-together, a picnic, a dinner and a movie. And don't be afraid to talk about your life and, yes, your problems. And listen, too.


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