Is Self Help Actually Helping? – Book Recommendation and Thoughts


The more I learn the more I feel I need to learn to actually know anything….

Back in my first year of study, in my first tutorial on motivational psychology, my tutor popped a big photo of Tony Robins on the screen and preceded to launch into a little rant about how he (and many other motivational / success gurus) were all pretty much full of shit…

As someone with a keen interest in performance, motivation and the psychology of change and personal development I was confused and intrigued and set about trying to uncover more about the root of this controversial statement and the science of self help.

On that journey I found the book “SHAM – How the Self Help Movement Made America Helpless – by Steve Salerno.”

I reckon it’s my favourite book I’ve read this year (although it was written in 2005).

I can’t stress how much I recommend this book for anyone else with an interest in self help, personal development, ”coaching” (of any kind), success etc.

As someone who’s chosen to go back and take the traditional path of education in the field of psychology (4-6 years of study at a university + relevant work experience) this book was incredibly thought provoking. Especially when the allure of an internet accreditation as a “mindset or life coach” I can complete online, in a few days, has on more than one occasion caught my eye.

Though I disagree with some of the author’s ideas and think the book is too one sided and feel there are some very valid counter arguments to supporting the self help movement, I think everyone could benefit from the analytical approach Salerno comes at the self help industry and it’s common ideologies with.

I also think some of the information is a little dated and as the book was written before the rise of social media could do with a revised version, or a stand alone book dealing with that topic alone but the basic premise is still relevant to a lot (not all) of the self help and personal development material I’ve come across and makes for a nice stimulating read.

Now to go read more and try and answer all the new questions this book has left me with haha.


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