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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There are far too many people on this forum who are self-help junkies. This is obvious every time someone uses jargon (your happy place, your inner child, etc.) or recommends yet another mainstream self-help book.

The vast majority of self-help books are garbage. They take complex issues and oversimplify them. They pass off slogans and common sense as professional advice. But, more than anything else, the majority of these blame the person seeking help. If it isn't working for you then you aren't trying hard enough or you aren't motivated enough or you are too repressed, etc.

I've seen at least one person talk about using hypnosis to try recover memories of sexual abuse. Do you have any idea how dangerous this is? I've never heard of anyone who recovered real memories of abuse, but the literature is full of people who recovered false ones. This type of quack psychology has even given rise to the false diagnosis of multiple personality disorder. There has yet to be a single case of this documented since the first case of Eve White was copied from the fictional book, "The Bird's Nest".

The mother of all self help programs, Alcoholics Anonymous, only has a success rate of 5%. This is barely distinguishable from the 3% improvement of people who do nothing. 12 step programs are a good way of making money for people who write books but little else. Men are not from Mars; women are not from Venus and self-help books don't actually help.
 

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Wow....

Seriously, you want to lump AA into silly self help programs?

On the surface I agree with you. I don't think self help books are nearly as helpful as they are widely held to be. People in crisis need a trained professional to guide them, teach them, help them come to terms, hold them accountable....but self help can be a bridge. A bridge to get them thinking and gaining insight. It might not be correct but lots of times it's close enough.

With the way managed health care is going, there are not a lot of people who can afford therapy, so self help books are their life preserver. Enough to keep them from drowning and able to to keep moving.

Even if AA only has a 3% success rate? Not sure I agree with this number.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Seriously, you want to lump AA into silly self help programs?
Yes. AA is not very effective. A drug that worked 5% of the time would not be approved. An investment with a 5% chance of success would be silly. And, many self-help books are worse.

Even if AA only has a 3% success rate? Not sure I agree with this number.
No, I said 5%. And that number is directly from AA. BTW, it isn't just AA. Every addiction therapy program I've ever heard of has similar success rates. You might want to read:

Hart, Carl (2013-06-11). High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society. HarperCollins.
 

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Okay, then what's your follow up suggestions?
 
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Are you asking me to write a self-help book?
Nope, unless you want to.

What I'm asking is what do you think people should turn in order to help them wade through troubles they're having? If not self help books then what?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
In another thread, someone just suggested Teal Swan, yet another quack self-help guru. Only she sells her book by inventing stories about ritualistic sexual abuse, torture, and human sacrifice. She also claims to be an extraterrestrial. An "Indigo" I believe is the jargon they use. This supposedly has something to do with aura the color of indigo. This isn't even sludge, it's below that.

Where do you expect material of this caliber to get you?
 

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I've seen at least one person talk about using hypnosis to try recover memories of sexual abuse.
I hope you're not referring to me. I did post in a sex abuse thread and mentioned NLP. Someone quoted me and lumped that in with hypnosis in a disparaging remark. However, I never, ever said anything about using hypnosis to recover repressed memories. In fact, in a PM to the OP I warned strongly against any therapist who might suggest this. One of my first major papers at university for psychology was on the topic of false memories. I'm quite across the topic.

Just clearing that up, if there was any mix up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I hope you're not referring to me.
No. This was the text I was referring to:

I have some evidence that I was sexually abused, but have no memory of it. I can't say if I did or didn't for sure. Circumstantial evidence makes a good case something happened to me.

In any case I have been to therapy many times and even was hypnotized once to see if anything came up. I finally had to admit I was never going to know for sure and was going to need to make the best dealing with the present, whatever happened in my childhood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
If not self help books then what?
There are currently 204,000 self help books on Amazon.
There are 5,600 specifically for men and 12,000 specifically for women. Maybe we can narrow this down to just the best sellers.

5,273 results for Books : "self help best sellers"

So, your problem is solved because you'll grow old and die before you figure out what book to use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Just as an example, The 5 Love Languages. He makes each category extremely broad and then mixes them together. So, the book ends up telling you nothing. A simpler approach than wasting your time reading this is to simply ask your partner what would make them feel loved.

I had a relationship help series that included really bad advice such as sandwiching criticisms between compliments.

Even best sellers like Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus is full of really ephemeral language that can be interpreted in many different ways. And, most of the advice is either ridiculous or would not apply in general to everyone. If this book seems to apply to a lot of people it's because it has no substance. It isn't difficult to find absurd examples such as men are like rubberbands while women are like waves.

If you want to understand about speaking styles, you would probably be better off starting with something by Deborah Tannen, professor of linguistic at Georgetown.
 

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Love love love Deborah Tannen! Her ideas on communication are smack on! I have two of hers....you're wearing that and.....? The siblings book...? Can't remember the name.
 

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A simpler approach than wasting your time reading this is to simply ask your partner what would make them feel loved.
Well, that wouldn't sell many books.

Actually, I think books like this can be helpful. The Five Love Languages allows people to find things they can relate to and fit in with. Otherwise they may come up with lists that are so specific they don't allow for much spontaneity.

Him: "She said she loves it when I buy her Orange Mocha Frappaccinos, so off I go."
Her: "Why can't you be a bit more creative for once?"
Him: ???

For some people, the path to improvement starts with the smallest of steps. There are enough books that give poor advice, so I'm okay with books that state the obvious.

I had a relationship help series that included really bad advice such as sandwiching criticisms between compliments.
Monty Python - The man who is alternately rude and polite - YouTube

Even best sellers like Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus is full of really ephemeral language that can be interpreted in many different ways. And, most of the advice is either ridiculous or would not apply in general to everyone.
Definitely not a favourite of mine, either. I didn't even finish it. But pointing out the obvious is a very successful business model.

I've probably learned more about effective communication from marketing books than I've ever come across from pop psychology. If someone really wants to know how people tick, those are the books to read.
 

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So that's your suggestion instead of self help books? Read Deborah Tannen? Not a bad idea but...
 

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Deborah Tannen is for communication. Perhaps we can narrow this down some. What problem are you asking about?
I understand this thread is more of a rant against pop psychology self help gurus.

The question I asked was if you don't want people to rely on self help books to keep them from sinking in the quick sands of their behavior, considering the low availability of qualified therapists and the high cost of said therapy what do you suggest people do when therapy is unobtainable?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Okay, let's start from the beginning. In philosophy, the question comes up of how you can be certain of anything at all. This is important because certainty is necessary to plan or build anything. Basically what it comes down to is that you create models of the world around you. These models let you make predictions and you test them to see if you get the expected results. Then you ask other people if they see the same things you do. That's how we become certain of things.

Any crackpot can write a book and proclaim that it is the most excellent/spiritual/effortless/universal guide to happiness. However, real wisdom is not found in one place or by one self-labeled guru; you see similarities in many different places.

If I were to look at the shows Tabatha Takes Over, Restaurant Impossible, Bar Rescue, and Hotel Impossible, there would not appear to be much overlap. However, they all emphasize cleanliness and an inviting atmosphere. They all talk about attracting new patrons and having products that fit the people in that area. Often, they talk about having relationships with other businesses. You could include shows like The Profit and see overlaps in terms of loss of identity, not concentrating on what is profitable, as well as the need for resources. When you see things popping up in more than one area, you realize that these things are common values and practices. In other words, these are things you need to know to have a successful business. These things fit within the philosophical standard of modeling, testing, and consensus.

Real self help advice is not nebulous. It isn't something poorly defined or hard to understand. It isn't something so vague that it can apply to anything or everything. If you have seen Restaurant Impossible then you know that Robert doesn't give vague criticisms about the food. He doesn't say that the food fails to nurture his inner need for self fulfillment. He is specific: it's overcooked, dried out, not seasoned, over seasoned, too watery, too oily, or not fresh. Self help should be specific and concrete. Notice too that when he suggests new recipes, the other people taste them and agree. Self help when demonstrated should be something that other people see and agree with. I use the above shows as an example because they are about fixing things. And, generally when people want to be happier in their life or relationship, there are things that need to be fixed. The steps of fixing things tend to be similar. But notice that there is no 12 step program for fixing a business. The AA model may have become a cliche' standard in self help circles but it isn't a real or valid standard. Real life simply doesn't conform to 12 steps.

If you and your intended were to write down what makes you happy then there should be a decent amount of overlap. Then you need to fit in terms of behavior. There isn't one standard for this because something that is a problem in one area can be good in another area. I recall one episode of Restaurant Impossible where a woman was not a good waitress because she spent too much time talking to the people at the tables. So, they made her the hostess; that job suited her personality. It could be difficult if both of you were timid, both were socially awkward, both had tempers, both were competitive, or both were disorganized.

So, now we've run into a problem. We end up with weak, folk wisdom like "Birds of a feather flock together" and "Opposites attract" which tells you nothing. "Strike while the iron is hot" or "Fools rush in". You can't get much out of that either. So, do you need someone who is just like you or someone who is complementary to you? In terms of things that make you happy, you need someone similar to you. However, in terms of process oriented things, you ideally don't want someone who shares your weaknesses. Processes are things that have to be done that are not related to leisure or hobbies or happiness. Cleaning in a restaurant is not directly related to cooking but it has to be done along with ordering and staffing. You could be a very talented chef but fail because you run out of supplies, the place isn't clean, or your staff isn't being managed. The same thing happens in a relationship. You have to make certain that the necessary things like cleaning, shopping, budgeting, maintenance, and cooking are taken care of without putting an undue burden on one person. You make a list of the jobs and how long they take and then you divide them so that they get taken care of. These foundational things have to be addressed so that you can enjoy the things that you are passionate about or that make a relationship fun.

So, what if you are already in a relationship with someone and you are both weak in a necessary process? A relationship isn't like a business where you can fire someone and hire someone more qualified. Actually this does happen when people get divorced or breakup. But, short of that, people can adapt to some extent. You might try studying to learn more about it, then practicing to get better at it, and either trading off or doing it together if both of you dislike it.

So, what if the weakness involves something internal to the relationship rather than paying bills or doing the shopping? When you are flying an airplane, many things are important and overlooking them can be disastrous. This is particularly true when you are busy getting ready for takeoff or landing. People can overlook simple things like turning on the fuel or putting the landing gear down. So, it is common practice to use checklists. If you run through every item on the checklist then nothing is overlooked. If there is something important with your partner that you can't remember there is nothing wrong with having a checklist. Also, when practicing dance steps or music, you go through the steps one at a time, slowly, awkwardly. It doesn't sound like music or look like dance at first but it gets better. If you are bad at something with your spouse, then go through it as slowly and as awkwardly as you need to and it will get better.

But what if what you need to do is scary? There is a difference between things that make you uncomfortable and things that can really hurt you. I had to take speech class in college and that was pretty scary. The first time I gave a speech my leg started to shake so I shifted my weight more onto it so that it would stop. It wasn't easy but I got through it. In contrast, there was a young woman in my class who had already taken speech and dropped it twice. She dropped it again. The class was required so at some point, she either did finish the class or she didn't get her degree. I wouldn't really want to hold a tarantula in my hand, but I would do it if it meant saving my relationship. You work on it and it will get less scary over time.
 
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