We are in need of help; that’s been established. But the question is, what kind of help? Therapy? Alcohol? (Always) A Dr. Phil intervention? Or can we help someone help ourselves by way of self-help books? Honestly I’ve never felt like there’s been a discussion here–I’ve always LOL’d at self-help books and then moved on to my next self-destructive and/or self-loathing task. But I feel like several people I respect have used them in a non-ironic way and take them seriously, so maybe I need to take a step back and reevaluate. Oh god… they’re already getting to me.
But I mean seriously, aren’t self-help books a little cult-y? Like I feel like Tom Cruise walks around with a library bag full of them on the shoulder of his 2nd assistant, 24/7. And in between jumping on couches and denying his sexuality, he just has his 3rd assistant read them out loud to him. And he’s probably written them all, too; or had his 4th assistant ghost write them all. That’s the other thing–they seem self-indulgent to me. Who thinks they’re qualified enough to write a self-help book? Clearly, a narcissist. Who isn’t capable of maintaining a real profession in psychology or a related field. Self-help authors are like motivational speakers: they’re diet therapy. They’re the University of Phoenixes, the Kirkland Signatures, the You’d Think It’s Butter!’s.
But maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe self-help books really can be valuable and serve a purpose. I feel like the more desperate you are, the greater lengths you’ll go to. So if your life is falling apart, hell, you’ll try anything. Even if that means buying a book entitled Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson, M.D. (Aggressive move with the question mark-colon, Dr. Johnson–I daresay I commend you). And I guess I shouldn’t be judgy–like, whatever works for you. Why should I knock self-help books just because I think they’re cheesy, opportunistic, and absurd, if they improve people’s lives who don’t know any better?
But also, what if they’re not really helping people who think they’re being helped by them. Like what if they’re just training a bunch of sociopaths? Because let’s be real, people who are overly “spiritual” are just fucking weird and nobody wants to get stuck sitting next to them on the plane because then they’ll ask you if they can read you one of their tantric poem trilogies and you’ll be like “ok” because you won’t want to be rude but when it’s all over you’ll end up feeling like you’ve just had sex with Sting.
All I’m saying is that maybe people shouldn’t be in control of their own help. Maybe psychologists, and social workers, and
drugs mental institutions exist for a reason. I mean when I hit rock bottom, I just eat a bunch of nachos and cry on my bathroom floor, so I don’t really get the need for self-help books. Besides the fact that they create jobs. Maybe that’s the whole point. Maybe they’re a government scheme, like prisons, to employ a bunch of hacks. In which case, we better watch out or the Mexicans are going to take over and start writing ALL the self-help books. Or, sorry–all the libros de autoayudas(?).
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