The Self Help Industry

Americans have a great appetite for self-improvement; but pop psychology as we know it today really dates from the 60’s, and became a big part of the culture in the 70’s.

An exhaustive overview of this is hardly necessary; it’s based on a few chestnuts that get repackaged and resold on Oprah every few years. What comes to mind, in no particular order-

-You are responsible for your own life.

Really dumb. Most of your life is out of your control. Realistically evaluating yourself, your current position, and your goals is critical to the possibility of any improvement, or to keep things from getting worse.

-You can accomplish anything.

No you can’t. Again realistic evaluation is critical.

-You control, and are responsible for your attitude, which must be good, or better yet super!

Your attitude is the product of your experiences. Shitty experiences, shitty attitude.

-Anger is a bad emotion and must be at least managed, or better released.

Living creatures are programmed to survive, which is why they are alive and not dead. Herd animals can only run; humans can run or fight. If you are angry it’s probably because you have been subjected to more shit than your nervous system is prepared to deal with by withdrawing. Focused anger is energy that will get you motivated and help you survive.

-You must forgive everyone who has hurt you. If you don’t you will always feel bad and what’s more, you will deserve to.

This is a big one, agreed on by all gurus, and particularly galling. The New Testament scripture on this is misinterpreted. This is an unbearable burden for many people. Realistically if something bad and unfair happens to you, you’re going to be angry. If no reasonable justice is received- and since we live in an unjust world, it probably won’t be- you will continue to be angry about it any time you think about it. Can you do anything about it? Probably not. Will the guilty ever be punished? Unlikely. As a very wise lady once wrote, living well is the best, and probably only, revenge. The one place justice will ever be done is in the part of your brain where you remember them and hold them accountable. Don’t let it be forgotten there also.

-The answer lies within you and if you think about it enough, you will come up with solutions for your life.

I hate to tell you this but there is probably not all that much in that noggin of yours, no great answers to the mysteries of life, not even your own. The answer is out there somewhere, better get looking for it.

There are probably many more. What I really hate about this crap is it damages peoples’ lives. I hate to think of George Sodini and his Louise Hay and his Nathaniel Branden trying to get the demons out of his head when they weren’t going anyplace. For the average person it’s more or less harmless mental masturbation; for people who have been damaged it just revictimizes them.

From the standpoint of social control, it’s much better to have people believing all the bad stuff that happened to them was their fault.

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2 Responses to The Self Help Industry

  1. Alkibiades says:

    inanities on top of inanities. Platitudes and solipsism. That’s the self help industry. Look at who that industry is primarily geared and marketed to.

  2. Harry Z. says:

    Yep. About the only useful self-help book I’ve encountered is How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World, which is all realism and no flowers. The author is deceased and it can be read online gratis. One caveat is that it suggests considering tax evasion as a way to boost one’s finances, but it was written in the Seventies, before everything was so computerized.

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