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Self-help: To millions of Americans it seems like a godsend. To many others it seems like a joke. But as investigative reporter Steve Salerno reveals in this groundbreaking book, it’s neither—in fact it’s much worse than a joke. Going deep inside the Self-Help and Actualization Movement (fittingly, the words form the acronym SHAM), Salerno offers the first serious exposé o Self-help: To millions of Americans it seems like a godsend. To many others it seems like a joke. But as investigative reporter Steve Salerno reveals in this groundbreaking book, it’s neither—in fact it’s much worse than a joke. Going deep inside the Self-Help and Actualization Movement (fittingly, the words form the acronym SHAM), Salerno offers the first serious exposé of this multibillion-dollar industry and the real damage it is doing—not just to its paying customers, but to all of American society. Based on the author’s extensive reporting—and the inside look at the industry he got while working at a leading “lifestyle” publisher—SHAM shows how thinly credentialed “experts” now dispense advice on everything from mental health to relationships to diet to personal finance to business strategy. Americans spend upward of $8 billion every year on self-help programs and products. And those staggering financial costs are actually the least of our worries. SHAM demonstrates how the self-help movement’s core philosophies have infected virtually every aspect of American life—the home, the workplace, the schools, and more. And Salerno exposes the downside of being uplifted, showing how the “empowering” message that dominates self-help today proves just as damaging as the blame-shifting rhetoric of self-help’s “Recovery” movement. SHAM also reveals: • How self-help gurus conduct extensive market research to reach the same customers over and over—without ever helping them • The inside story on the most notorious gurus—from Dr. Phil to Dr. Laura, from Tony Robbins to John Gray • How your company might be wasting money on motivational speakers, “executive coaches,” and other quick fixes that often hurt quality, productivity, and morale • How the Recovery movement has eradicated notions of personal responsibility by labeling just about anything—from drug abuse to “sex addiction” to shoplifting—a dysfunction or disease • How Americans blindly accept that twelve-step programs offer the only hope of treating addiction, when in fact these programs can do more harm than good • How the self-help movement inspired the disastrous emphasis on self-esteem in our schools • How self-help rhetoric has pushed people away from proven medical treatments by persuading them that they can cure themselves through sheer application of will As Salerno shows, to describe self-help as a waste of time and money vastly understates its collateral damage. And with SHAM, the self-help industry has finally been called to account for the damage it has done. Also available as an eBook From the Hardcover edition.


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Self-help: To millions of Americans it seems like a godsend. To many others it seems like a joke. But as investigative reporter Steve Salerno reveals in this groundbreaking book, it’s neither—in fact it’s much worse than a joke. Going deep inside the Self-Help and Actualization Movement (fittingly, the words form the acronym SHAM), Salerno offers the first serious exposé o Self-help: To millions of Americans it seems like a godsend. To many others it seems like a joke. But as investigative reporter Steve Salerno reveals in this groundbreaking book, it’s neither—in fact it’s much worse than a joke. Going deep inside the Self-Help and Actualization Movement (fittingly, the words form the acronym SHAM), Salerno offers the first serious exposé of this multibillion-dollar industry and the real damage it is doing—not just to its paying customers, but to all of American society. Based on the author’s extensive reporting—and the inside look at the industry he got while working at a leading “lifestyle” publisher—SHAM shows how thinly credentialed “experts” now dispense advice on everything from mental health to relationships to diet to personal finance to business strategy. Americans spend upward of $8 billion every year on self-help programs and products. And those staggering financial costs are actually the least of our worries. SHAM demonstrates how the self-help movement’s core philosophies have infected virtually every aspect of American life—the home, the workplace, the schools, and more. And Salerno exposes the downside of being uplifted, showing how the “empowering” message that dominates self-help today proves just as damaging as the blame-shifting rhetoric of self-help’s “Recovery” movement. SHAM also reveals: • How self-help gurus conduct extensive market research to reach the same customers over and over—without ever helping them • The inside story on the most notorious gurus—from Dr. Phil to Dr. Laura, from Tony Robbins to John Gray • How your company might be wasting money on motivational speakers, “executive coaches,” and other quick fixes that often hurt quality, productivity, and morale • How the Recovery movement has eradicated notions of personal responsibility by labeling just about anything—from drug abuse to “sex addiction” to shoplifting—a dysfunction or disease • How Americans blindly accept that twelve-step programs offer the only hope of treating addiction, when in fact these programs can do more harm than good • How the self-help movement inspired the disastrous emphasis on self-esteem in our schools • How self-help rhetoric has pushed people away from proven medical treatments by persuading them that they can cure themselves through sheer application of will As Salerno shows, to describe self-help as a waste of time and money vastly understates its collateral damage. And with SHAM, the self-help industry has finally been called to account for the damage it has done. Also available as an eBook From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for Sham: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dovie

    I seldom write reviews, but this book was so disappointing and irritating that it inspired me to draft a review. 'Sham' is a bizarre jumble of legitimate inquiry and feckless fear-mongering. The book explores several legitimate problems with the self-help movement in America. Salerno points out that the techniques offered in the genre literature frequently are unproven, at best, meaning that consumers are paying for a product whose efficacy is dubious. In addition, the author points out the ques I seldom write reviews, but this book was so disappointing and irritating that it inspired me to draft a review. 'Sham' is a bizarre jumble of legitimate inquiry and feckless fear-mongering. The book explores several legitimate problems with the self-help movement in America. Salerno points out that the techniques offered in the genre literature frequently are unproven, at best, meaning that consumers are paying for a product whose efficacy is dubious. In addition, the author points out the questionable evidence behind the disease model of addiction, including alcoholism, and discusses the growing body of research demonstrating that 'recovery' is an ineffective tool for addressing these problems. Salerno also provides a competent review of the credentials (or lack thereof) possessed by the key players in the self-help market, and the connection between the cult of self-esteem and the epidemic of narcissism that has swept this country. But that's where Salerno runs off the rails. In the section titled "Looking for Love...on All the Wrong Bases" Salerno discusses the ways self -help contributes to the high rate of divorce, decline of the nuclear family, and the resultant social chaos. He refers to alternative families as "broken homes" and alleges that these types of arrangements can't be good for children, claiming that "statistics on crime, drug abuse, and teen pregnancy leave scant room for dissent." Finally, after criticizing "artificial" approaches to dating and marriage that are recommended by self-help, Salerno quotes Sarah Allen of Divorce Forum. Asking her why we have so much divorce, she answers "we have more divorce because marriage isn't based on unconditional love." And there ya go. It's that simply. Except it isn't. First, the nuclear family is only one of many family forms found throughout human history, so simply assuming that the nuclear family represents the default natural, healthy arrangement for rearing children (while other family forms represent a dire decline) is an unwarranted leap in logic. In fact the "traditional family", idealized in the 1950s, is a historic flash in the pan. Additionally, Salerno fails to quote the statistics about crime, drug abuse, and teen pregnancy that we're supposed to be so concerned about, most likely because doing so would substantially weaken his argument. Teen pregnancy and birth rates reached a historic low in 2012, according to the CDC and the Guttmacher Institute. Teens are delaying sexual activity, and when they do become sexually active, are more likely to use contraceptives. Drug abuse and crime have also declined, leaving one to wonder exactly what statistics are supposed to keep us up at night. Then there is the question of the "artificial" approach to marriage, as offered by such self-help books as 'The Rules: Time-Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right'. Salerno implies that these contrived approaches stifle true love, thereby creating unstable unions, leading to high divorce rate and on and on. But the notion that romantic love should be the impetus for marriage is as much a new, 'artificial' idea as any other. In other times and places, the idea of basing a lifelong commitment on something as ephemeral as an emotion would seem ludicrous. In point of fact, arranged marriages (obviously not based on unconditional love and clearly manufactured) enjoy some of the highest rates of longevity and satisfaction, so Salerno's causal connection between self-help, lack of true love, and high divorce falls apart. He does point out that selfishness is also a factor in divorce, and alleges that self-help advocates selfishness. Perhaps this is true in some cases, but it should be noted that the connection between self-help and selfishness is unproven- it's Salerno's personal thesis. This is significant because that's the biggest issue that Salerno takes with the self-help genre; the books/seminars/videos/web sites make untested, unproven claims regarding their treatment. If we shouldn't believe self-help authors when they claim their treatment produces desirable results, why should we simply take Salerno's word that it does the opposite? Salerno also addresses alternative medicine, recounting the sad story of a woman named Debbie Benson who died of cancer because she refused biomedical treatment, opting for alternative medicine instead. He then attempts to terrify his readers, informing them that 86 percent of Americans have sought out alternative medicine at some point in their life. 62 percent of Americans are at risk of being the next Debbie Benson! But wait- the story of Debbie Benson is relatively rare. Obviously 62 percent of Americans don't eschew all Western medicine; according to the CDC, 82.1 percent of American adults saw a physician last year alone and the figure is even higher for children (92.8 percent). So it's clear that alternative medicine must be used in conjunction with biomedicine, not in place of it. But still, the mere fact that there are cases like the Debbie Benson case... Preventable medical errors, that's biomedicine folks, result in anywhere from 98,000 to 195,000 deaths a year (making it the sixth leading cause of death in America if these numbers where counted as an independent category). Alternative medicine doesn't even make at top 20. In comparison to Western biomedicine, alternative medicine is rather innocuous. But the danger posed by each respective practice is only part of the story. Another important aspect of medicine is whether or not it works. Biomedicine works, and alternative medicine doesn't. Except it does (at least within a limited sphere). Major medical studies have demonstrated that numerous alternative practices (acupuncture, prayer, therapeutic touch, etc) are successful at reducing the subjective experience of pain. The catch is that these effects are psychosomatic. However, psychosomatic relief is STILL relief. This brings us closer to what people like Salerno actually mean- alternative medicine doesn't work through "appropriate" biomedical mechanisms and is therefore bad. Opponents of non-Western medicine want you to feel better, but only is it's on their terms, and the trumped up dangers of alternative medicine provide a convenient smokescreen. Salerno also fails to present any solutions to the perceived self-help problem. He seems quite content to criticize the genre's patrons and the American lay-population, implying that they're naive, lazy, and that they're only seeking easy answers. He even manages to squeeze in some racism, saying this of the decline in verbal scores on the SAT: "we've also incorporated into mainstream expression increasing amounts of street dialect (think Ebonics) and other linguistic corruptions...Moreover, American schools contain an ever-larger population of immigrant children whose parents are disinclined to give up their native tongues." This book is a huge disappointment, leading me to believe that perhaps Salerno should help himself to a hearty portion of his own advice.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Redshirt Knitting

    The premise is interesting, and he takes it in some intriguing directions. But his research and level of discussion is every bit as bad as those he purports to be exposing. Conflates correlation with causation on a regular basis, makes sweeping generalizations based on little to no evidence, etc. Also surprisingly axe-grind-y about feminism, for a book that is not about feminism. Feminism shows up 8 times in the book, and always as the bad guy. I'm sure Salerno doesn't actually hate women and the The premise is interesting, and he takes it in some intriguing directions. But his research and level of discussion is every bit as bad as those he purports to be exposing. Conflates correlation with causation on a regular basis, makes sweeping generalizations based on little to no evidence, etc. Also surprisingly axe-grind-y about feminism, for a book that is not about feminism. Feminism shows up 8 times in the book, and always as the bad guy. I'm sure Salerno doesn't actually hate women and the feminist movement. But it sure comes off that way.

  3. 4 out of 5

    K

    “To be honest…I don’t think there’s been any profession that has wreaked more damage on the culture than psychology.” (John Rosemond, quoted in “SHAM”) Ouch. In this book, Steve Salerno takes on what he calls SHAM – the Self-Help and Actualization Movement. As you can see from his chosen acronym, he’s not a fan. In fact, parts of the book read like an angry diatribe with ad hominem attacks. “Her doctoral dissertation was titled ‘Effects of Insulin on 3-0 Methylglucose Transport in Isolated Rat A “To be honest…I don’t think there’s been any profession that has wreaked more damage on the culture than psychology.” (John Rosemond, quoted in “SHAM”) Ouch. In this book, Steve Salerno takes on what he calls SHAM – the Self-Help and Actualization Movement. As you can see from his chosen acronym, he’s not a fan. In fact, parts of the book read like an angry diatribe with ad hominem attacks. “Her doctoral dissertation was titled ‘Effects of Insulin on 3-0 Methylglucose Transport in Isolated Rat Adipocytes,’” carps Salerno about Dr. Laura, “In other words, the usual background for relationship counselors.” Salerno also reveals Dr. Phil’s reaction when his first wife confronted him about his alleged adultery – not a denial, but his famous “Get real!” John Gray was also married more than once, and his Ph.D., you know, is highly questionable. And Salerno just loves pointing out, at every opportunity, how much money these people make – dollar amounts are frequently provided. But to be fair, Salerno’s attacks on the self-help gurus are not only personal. He points out, correctly, that many of them use circular language, endorse dubious products, and abuse their power in damaging ways. Salerno casts his SHAM net quite wide, extending his reach to athletes and gangsters turned motivational speakers, twelve step programs, life coaching, alternative medicine, and self esteem curricula in the public schools. Unfortunately, he does not address parenting books (I’d love to hear his thoughts on THOSE) or books on improving your household management skills (I don’t care what you say, Steve, FLYlady changed my life), which I believe are just as prominent within the self-help genre and arguably more legitimate. His argument, then, is perhaps a bit more one-sided than necessary. Salerno divides self-help into two categories. According to the first, victimization, you are not responsible for what you do; your behavior is determined by childhood traumas, societal factors, and/or the disease that is addictive behavior. In contrast, according to the empowerment school of thought, you can achieve anything you want to achieve if you simply try hard enough; success is a function of desire and/or commitment. Thus, when the self-help books or gurus fail to achieve the desired results, it’s either because you’re a victim of your dysfunctions or you didn’t try hard enough. The possibility that the self-help book or guru was inadequate is neatly eliminated. And Salerno shows us, rightly, that neither of these attitudes is a particularly healthy or efficacious way to go through life. Salerno blames SHAM for all kinds of societal ills (although he acknowledges that SHAM is probably one factor of many), including the elevated divorce rate, increased selfishness (sure beats co-dependence!), declining academic performance, an unrealistic belief that “wanting to succeed” is the main prerequisite for success, unwillingness to take responsibility for one’s actions, punishing masculine behavior and rewarding feminine behavior for both boys and girls, etc., etc. His arguments are interesting, if imperfect, especially when it comes to cause and effect. After all, is SHAM the problem or the symptom? Is it SHAM that’s causing this mess, or is it people’s gullibility? Or their desperation? And if they’re desperate, why? Is SHAM to blame for that too? It’s difficult to tell exactly where Salerno stands when it comes to psychotherapy. On the one hand, he seems to acknowledge the usefulness of credentialed therapists when it comes to recognized mental health disorders (Salerno emphasizes the danger of people’s relying on dubious SHAM artists when serious mental health assistance is what’s needed). On the other hand, much of what he says might be applied to therapy, at least in some cases. And the quote with which I began this review says it all, doesn’t it? I do recommend this book – it’s readable and interesting, and quite provocative. Salerno sometimes overstates his case, but all in all, he gives you a lot to think about.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gisela Hausmann

    Steve Salerno needs to be commended for gathering such a vast amount of material for this book. The part I personally like the most was the one about the self-esteem movement in America's schools. As someone, who attended Austria's (discriminating) tier school system at a time when it was considered to be the 8th best school system in the world, and also the mother of two American children, who attended American schools, I have thrown quite a few temper tantrum about the American school system. W Steve Salerno needs to be commended for gathering such a vast amount of material for this book. The part I personally like the most was the one about the self-esteem movement in America's schools. As someone, who attended Austria's (discriminating) tier school system at a time when it was considered to be the 8th best school system in the world, and also the mother of two American children, who attended American schools, I have thrown quite a few temper tantrum about the American school system. While, in 12th grade, I myself translated Pliny the Elder's work from the original (7 errors in a translation of 300 words earned "barely a D", 8+ error earned an "F") my children talked about traditional garbs in Ancient Rome. ( really ? ? ? ) Even though Latin was not my favorite subject I was outraged at how the supposedly excellent school did not offer a more rigorous curriculum. Quite fabulously, Salerno offers Chicago teacher Mrs. Daugherty's story. Believing that she was cursed with a class of 6h grade students with learning disabilities, Mrs. Daugherty looks into her students' files to check their IQ scores while the principal is off premises. She "discovers" that most of her students' IQ scores are 120+, near genius level. She therefore concludes that it is "her fault" that the students aren't learning and imposes a rigorous curriculum, topped with vast amounts of homework and strict punishment for misbehavior and engineers a 180 degree turnout. That surprises even the principal. When he asks Mr. Daugherty how she managed to do this, Mr. Daugherty confesses that she looked up the IQ levels and then adjusted her teaching method accordingly. (quoting from SHAM) "... Oh, by the way," he whispered as she turned around to retreat to her classroom, "I think you should know: those numbers next to the kids' names? It's not their IQ scores. It's their locker numbers..." It's a brilliant story which illustrates the whole problem: Originally Mrs. Daugherty follows the adopted system of "high expectations will automatically destroy the children's self-worth." Only when Mrs. Daugherty believes (incorrectly) that she herself destroys these "gifted" kid's futures she imposes the toughest rules on (regular) children and (not surprisingly) succeeds. Sadly, Salerno does not really analyze Mrs. Daugherty's psychological state of mind ; then again maybe it is s not known. At least to me it seems quite possible that Mrs. Daugherty too was a victim of SHAM and therefore acted the way she did. As for the rest of the book: Basically, the author makes the case that with all these vast amounts of money poured into self-help our society should see results, yet it doesn't, but instead we see a society depended on more self-help, which may not lead to anything. While I agree with many parts of this book, I do not agree with its portrayal of Oprah Winfrey. Also, while I believe that Tony Robbins can be found guilty of writing extremely long-winded and boring books, which lead to people buying his action loaded (and much more expensive) seminars, (nobody wants having "to work" reading through Mr. Robbins' ridiculously boring books but plenty of youtube videos suggest that Mr. Robbins seminars are lots of fun) I do not believe that all people Salerno names in his book are in the same group of SHAM artists, which takes away from the book. Still, the worst problem of the book is: What's the solution? Pointing out (major) flaws of a system is good but it should be complimented by a solution. If SHAM functions like a drug for its users (as Mr. Salerno kind of suggests) wouldn't a different powerful system be needed to "wean off SHAM users"? Maybe Mr. Salerno will write a 2nd book describing alternatives. Gisela Hausmann, author & blogger

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

    Rarely does a book get me so worked up I get out of bed and turn my computer on just to get my thoughts out. Let's start with the star review. I gave it two, although I feel it was much more deserving of one, I added it at the end of the day because he still might of successfully pulled me away from Self-Help books and gurus. It seems only fair. Salerno in the course of this book jumps from providing evidence to back up his points, to wildly going off on school reform, the breakdown of the nuclear Rarely does a book get me so worked up I get out of bed and turn my computer on just to get my thoughts out. Let's start with the star review. I gave it two, although I feel it was much more deserving of one, I added it at the end of the day because he still might of successfully pulled me away from Self-Help books and gurus. It seems only fair. Salerno in the course of this book jumps from providing evidence to back up his points, to wildly going off on school reform, the breakdown of the nuclear family, and even political atmosphere with barely a strand of thought connecting his main argument to his current topic. Sure, with the subtext of the title being "How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless" you should expect big picture conclusions. However, he rarely IF EVER explains how SHAM directly influences these statistics relenting on multiple occasions how he could never realistically quantify "the damage." At its core Sham is a scathing series of diatribes (some well argued and resources cited) against everything that victimization and empowerment encapsulate and have, as he has concluded, tainted with its message. In many places throughout the book I found myself agreeing with him. In others I exclaimed out loud "Oh what the actual f**k" because I was in such disbelief that he could come to such outlandish conclusions. This book has some value simply because its a dissenting voice in sea of stronger nearly screaming voices, which is good, and frankly I'd like to see someone more even-keeled bust down and argue against the Self-Help types. Although Mr. Salerno did nothing to convince me that the likes of Dr. Phil and Tony Robbins are ruining the nation as a whole (although I've met a few people they've undermined), I am far more cautious of the industry and the messages that they sell. I figure that this is at least a partial victory for Salerno, even though the admission comes begrudgingly due to his at times completely unnecessary alarmist tone. In conclusion, this is a book that I wanted to love but clearly hated due to the author's inability to back up his claims with any legitimate proof, just as many other reviewers have stated CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION and that is one of this book's worst offenses. To be honest he had a few great arguments and points I agreed with, even if it was on a basic and possibly unfounded level (confirmation bias is a powerful thing). Like I said at the beginning of the review, rarely does a book leave me this conflicted upon conclusion.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Susan Shaw

    This may be unnecessarily hostile but should be essential reading for anyone who has ever read a self-help book. It's important to realize that self-help publishing is an industry with the same motives for self-perpetuation as any other industry. This may be unnecessarily hostile but should be essential reading for anyone who has ever read a self-help book. It's important to realize that self-help publishing is an industry with the same motives for self-perpetuation as any other industry.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robb Bridson

    This is a book with a title and premise designed to bias me toward liking it. The author did sufficiently repellent enough a job as to make me overall dislike it, in spite of agreeing with a lot if it. I understand the other reviews that say the author makes good points but sucks at arguing them. Now, a lot could be that this book is ten years old. Many things have changed. Life coaches don't seem to have expanded much. The disease theory is still strong beyond its merits in some areas, but not a This is a book with a title and premise designed to bias me toward liking it. The author did sufficiently repellent enough a job as to make me overall dislike it, in spite of agreeing with a lot if it. I understand the other reviews that say the author makes good points but sucks at arguing them. Now, a lot could be that this book is ten years old. Many things have changed. Life coaches don't seem to have expanded much. The disease theory is still strong beyond its merits in some areas, but not as big as it was and not growing. Megachurches and social media would get more coverage in a modern book on the subject. But... the author writes as if the book is ten years older than it is. He obsessively scolds the youth of America for narcissism, laments the feminization of the country, goes on heavily emotional rants about the good ol' days and how crime is rampant and no responsibility and GET OFF MY LAWN!!! Jesus. I hate the self-help movement as much as the author does, but I don't see reactionary bullshit as any better. Crotchety rants are fun from time to time, but let's not mistake them for logic or research. Hell, half the folks I see who embrace all this "positive thinking" and prosperity faith and lament about codependence also treat us Facebook friends to an army of memes about how kids these days are awful. The two thought processes are cousins, forms of lazy thought. All about comforting beliefs to make yourself feel good. At his best, the author does a good job tearing down the self-help philosophies. At his worse, he supplies us with gossipy attacks on the leaders. The low point for me is when he in one line chastises Suze Ormond for not being married. Seriously? He also has a big axe to grind for self esteem, bringing out all the popular arguments school "reformers" use to get us to panic and not think about their prescriptions, only making an even worse and more unfounded argument-- it's because we focus on self esteem instead of math! The author is not above using spurious correlations (lots of problems attributed to single-parent households, despite research showing that, when held constant, it's all about poverty-- and those studies were available when this book was written). He also loves to pull out a bunch of "there is no evidence but I bet it's true" kind of arguments. In the end, it's because he wasn't content in writing an expose of the self help movement as the delusional religion it is, its harm mostly the way it acts as a bandaid for real problems that need real fixes, and the way it props up a just world hypothesis and promotes callous, selfish thinking and behavior. Nope. He needs to tie it to all his pet peeves about society. And he needs to make it sound causal. As a bigtime hater of the industry, I would never give it so much credit. And I cringe at how its most insidious evils are largely ignored, or at least not given much time, by the author. The author seems quite okay with bashing the people for whom "victimization" appeals, not so concerned with their wellbeing. I've read two other books--more recent-- that debunk the 12 step method, but those books also provide alternatives or other ways of approaching the problem, scientific and compassionate ways. The author seems more to promote a kind of man-up philosophy which is only separated from Dr. Phil in the type of cynicism involved. The author seems to care more about rescuing chivalry and romance, masculinity, and idealized '60s culture than anything else. He is promoting just another bullshit philosophy. ADDENDUM: There is a lot wrong with this book. That's the only way to explain why I gave only two stars to a book that shares my rage. I forgot to mention a few more things about this book that add to its lack of credibility. First, there is way too much of a personal focus in some of the chapters. To my way of thinking, whether Dr. Laura is a hypocrite and a terrible person (she is) is largely irrelevant to the horror of her industry. And the author is way too obsessive about her nude picture (I'm guessing the book was published around the time of that fiasco). Second, the choice of sources is often questionable. There is no reason to believe Dr. Phil's ex is a liar, but there is also no way in hell her testimony should be taken as objective. And yet, this seems to be the big zinger at the end of the Dr. Phil chapter. The first two sources quoted are obviously the work of rightwing ideologues. He keeps returning to one of the writers, using her as an "expert" and quoting her on a lot of questionable things. Many of the experts quoted are speaking strictly in opinion, often not related to expertise and often baldly political. There is a lot from a blowhard whose whole schtick is "the end of fatherhood". Mostly the experts are cherrypicked to build up to the end of Western culture vibe the author is trying to give. It has the weaknesses of Penn and Teller's Bullshit!-- cherrypicked experts, a la carte focus on any subject if it helps to make the point that X is evil, Y is good-- and none of the strengths--humor, entertainment, likability. And, yes, the big problem is that the author is stuck on trying to show a Big Problem. That is unnecessary. The self-help movement is a bad philosophy and an opportunistic model. It is bad on its own without madeup problems and anachronistic moral hand-wringing. It can be exposed by simple analysis of its precepts. It is bad for how it cheats those desperate enough to trust it. The author just seems to not think all that is good enough, and he only barely looks into the idea that maybe the self-help movement exists to fill a niche. He simplifies the causes to people being desperate enough to believe anything. That is a big part of it, but only the tip of the iceberg. I hope someone else writes a book on this topic at some point.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Steve Salerno writes a blistering accusatory book about the self-help and actualization movement (ironically nicknamed SHAM) but his arguments sometimes fall flat. I kept thinking, “Yes, but…” as I was reading through this book, and in the interest of full disclosure I am not a fan of the movement, but I have read some of Dr. Laura’s books (Ten Stupid Things…) and Suze Orman’s books as well. Salerno does follow the money in some instances and hits pay dirt. One example is that of the Hooked on P Steve Salerno writes a blistering accusatory book about the self-help and actualization movement (ironically nicknamed SHAM) but his arguments sometimes fall flat. I kept thinking, “Yes, but…” as I was reading through this book, and in the interest of full disclosure I am not a fan of the movement, but I have read some of Dr. Laura’s books (Ten Stupid Things…) and Suze Orman’s books as well. Salerno does follow the money in some instances and hits pay dirt. One example is that of the Hooked on Phonics series, which is promoted by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Turns out that it was created by one of the partners in the company that also owns Dr. Laura’s show. So the individuals at the forefront of the SHAM movement aren’t so much about helping individuals as they are about satisfying their corporate masters. Salerno avoids actual claims of causation, which would require solid proof and instead relies on connections between cause and effect. Coincidences are sometimes just that: coincidences, and there’s no real evidence to connect one thing to another. But Salerno does this throughout the book, and this weakens his argument considerably. He also castigates some of the biggest personalities in the SHAM movement including Dr. Laura, Dr. Phil, Tony Robbins, et al, but instead of showing how their advice harms instead of helps, he resorts to ad hominem argumentation, which proves nothing. He might not personally like these people, but that has nothing to do with whether or not they are qualified to counsel people or give advice. I was surprised to learn that both John Gray (Mars and Venus) and Barbara DeAngelis, who have both written books about relationships, have doctorates from a nonaccredited university. I agree that the SHAM industry is out of control; every week it seems that there’s a new book telling us how to think, feel, or act. Its profits come at the expense of desperate people. However, by using faulty logic, his conclusions are easily dismissed. Still, for what it’s worth, it is a good read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marty

    Mr. Salerno makes a good argument against almost all of the "self help" movements and especially those who make themselves millionaires promoting nonsense. A lot were obvious, easy targets, but there were a lot of surprises, too. Who would have guessed AA's published numbers could be interpreted as meaning you're better off quitting on your own than joining AA? He also gets into a lot of side topics that aren't so obviously self help, such as "alternative medicine" and the "self-esteem" movement Mr. Salerno makes a good argument against almost all of the "self help" movements and especially those who make themselves millionaires promoting nonsense. A lot were obvious, easy targets, but there were a lot of surprises, too. Who would have guessed AA's published numbers could be interpreted as meaning you're better off quitting on your own than joining AA? He also gets into a lot of side topics that aren't so obviously self help, such as "alternative medicine" and the "self-esteem" movement. I found it a very interesting read. I fear that those who most need to read and think about these topics won't read or think about it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Josh Hanagarne

    Very good points, not argued that well.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I found this book very interesting. The author devotes entire chapters to Dr. Phil and Oprah, two people that I absolutely cannot stand. He points out that many "self-help gurus" are trying to help people with the very thing that plagues them. In Dr. Phil's background, he has an ex-wife on whom he cheated. When she confronted him, he said, "Get over it", one of his famous one-liners. Dr. Laura Schlessinger's harsh stance against extra-marital sex and pornography is highlighted by her past of bre I found this book very interesting. The author devotes entire chapters to Dr. Phil and Oprah, two people that I absolutely cannot stand. He points out that many "self-help gurus" are trying to help people with the very thing that plagues them. In Dr. Phil's background, he has an ex-wife on whom he cheated. When she confronted him, he said, "Get over it", one of his famous one-liners. Dr. Laura Schlessinger's harsh stance against extra-marital sex and pornography is highlighted by her past of breaking up a marriage and riske pictures from that relationship being on the internet. The author also went into how the SHAM outlook that started in the 60's has infiltrated our schools. Children's self-esteem has been made the priority versus academics, which has shown in the US's test scores over the past several decades when compared with international test scores -- SAD!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Julian

    Mr. Salerno would have better served his work had he taken a mor humorous tack (like Peter Washington's history of the new age movement in Madame Blavatsky's Baboon). Instead it's a bunch of bitter griping which I got thoroughly tired of 200 pages in and never finished. Having said that, there are some important and illuminating points he makes regarding the self-help movement. If you are interested about the facade and uselessness of said movement and/or would like a counter point to the vomito Mr. Salerno would have better served his work had he taken a mor humorous tack (like Peter Washington's history of the new age movement in Madame Blavatsky's Baboon). Instead it's a bunch of bitter griping which I got thoroughly tired of 200 pages in and never finished. Having said that, there are some important and illuminating points he makes regarding the self-help movement. If you are interested about the facade and uselessness of said movement and/or would like a counter point to the vomitous The Secret, do read. But just be forewarned, Mr. Salerno is extremely taxing. He should keep on the sunnyside of life. maybe he could join a group...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jocelin

    I thought this was an interesting book. America has become obsessed with self-help. Most of the books that are out there leave us more confused than when we started. This book gave great insight to some of the ideas that have made us dependant on false hope and false promises. There were some aspects of the book that got a little boring like the chapter on "Put me in Coach". Overall very informant and worth reading. I thought this was an interesting book. America has become obsessed with self-help. Most of the books that are out there leave us more confused than when we started. This book gave great insight to some of the ideas that have made us dependant on false hope and false promises. There were some aspects of the book that got a little boring like the chapter on "Put me in Coach". Overall very informant and worth reading.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    This was an interesting, if somewhat depressing expose about how the self-help movement has virtually crippled American society. Some of it I completely agreed with, other parts I wasn't sure I did. But it was well researched although perhaps not as impartial as it could be and gave plenty of food for thought This was an interesting, if somewhat depressing expose about how the self-help movement has virtually crippled American society. Some of it I completely agreed with, other parts I wasn't sure I did. But it was well researched although perhaps not as impartial as it could be and gave plenty of food for thought

  15. 5 out of 5

    Oriana

    A. Maz. Ing. This is the kind of book that confirms everything I've always suspected, and lays it out in a smart, coherent way that has the added effect of making me furious at the world. A. Maz. Ing. This is the kind of book that confirms everything I've always suspected, and lays it out in a smart, coherent way that has the added effect of making me furious at the world.

  16. 4 out of 5

    M.A. Garcias

    Full disclosure, I've personally read a few books you could consider self-help, and always kept them as a valuable resource. But I always knew it's not the books, or the seminars or the blogs, that changed your life, it was your personal action. And also knew that despite your best efforts, success and happiness depend on many external factors as well as your inner attitude. What this book highlights is the other side of that story, a multibillion industry devoted to make the world feel sick, or Full disclosure, I've personally read a few books you could consider self-help, and always kept them as a valuable resource. But I always knew it's not the books, or the seminars or the blogs, that changed your life, it was your personal action. And also knew that despite your best efforts, success and happiness depend on many external factors as well as your inner attitude. What this book highlights is the other side of that story, a multibillion industry devoted to make the world feel sick, or wrong, or a victim, and then sell them a quick fix for their hopes, dreams or (perceived or real) inadequacies. I never imagined how perverse could this world be, and how many gullible people could feel into its trap - millions who follow these cult-like organizations' empty promises based on no evidence of its effectiveness (not unlike religion, by the way). Well written and entertaining, has no problem in putting in the same bag of charlatans such apparently separate topics as life coaching, recovery programs, pseudo-medicine, and other "alternative" (ie. fraudulent) therapies. On the minus side, I think the book puts too much blame on the industry and not enough on its consumers, who shouldn't be just considered shameless victims (as per the book's own thesis). Also, the connection it makes to broader societal changes (such as victimization of criminals, self esteem education or alternative medicine support) feels a bit forced - obviously the author wants to use SHAM as the influence that lead to all these anomalies, but the proof he gives is speculative, based on anecdote, and as he admits there are many factors at play - or maybe the causality goes in the opposite way, and the rise of SHAM comes from the societal mindset changes in the first place. Other than that, an eye-opening reading that makes me question not just the frauds and deceptions I already knew, but some I never expected (AA and support groups!).

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marnie

    This is the same review I left on amazon. __________ There is a lot in this book worthy of merit. In cases where the author has cited real facts, studies and professionals in the field of psychology, he builds a compelling case that the self help movement is flawed at its core. I will admit that I am already biased against self-help and its big name proponents so I was a pretty easy sell on these things. But where there are strong cases that the self esteem movement has been harmful to children an This is the same review I left on amazon. __________ There is a lot in this book worthy of merit. In cases where the author has cited real facts, studies and professionals in the field of psychology, he builds a compelling case that the self help movement is flawed at its core. I will admit that I am already biased against self-help and its big name proponents so I was a pretty easy sell on these things. But where there are strong cases that the self esteem movement has been harmful to children and motivational speakers and 12 step programs have shown no meaningful results in improving businesses and treating addiction, respectively, some of his other claims seem to be more wild editorializing instead of actual fact. For instance, his insistence that self-help has a causal relationship to divorce rates. Divorce rates have steadily risen as women have become more independent and been able to support themselves as well as the advent of readily accessible birth control that no longer ties a woman to a life of giving birth to and raising countless children. It's nice to be able to state that the self help movement is at fault for divorce and we'd all be happier if the movement never started, but the author makes no reference to evidence that this is the case. I believe this stems more from the author's desire to directly link each major area of SHAM to a real life effect that we can all relate to, but I feel it really cheapens his entire book. Worse, though, than these cases, are his comments about the "feminization" of schools and businesses. He accurately points out that females have fared better in schools that have focused more on verbal and emotional aspects of learning and less on competitiveness and his points that this happens at the expense of the wellbeing of males is a fair point, but this book would lead you to believe it'd be better to set the progress of females back and return to a time that preferentially favored males. Clearly, improvement is needed but the solution is not to go back to another failed system. I also resent this same sort of Mars/Venus line of delineation between the genders. The truth is much more subtle and all individuals will fall along a continuum of learning styles. A good teacher will present information in a variety of ways to target a number of learning styles. Yes, boys statistically do better in one learning environment and girls in another but this oversimplification of learning difference is exactly the sort of faulty thinking the author is trying to debunk throughout the book, so why use it as justification for his theory? The result is that the overall tone of this book feels slightly misogynistic and self serving, which is especially frustrating since I very much would like to be able to recommend this book overall. I give it three stars because I feel there is some excellent information contained within, but I I cannot give it more because I would prefer the author stick more to fact and less to speculation.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marc Brackett

    It's a real shame this book wasn't a best seller, but then again that would make it just another SHAM book (people reading this to cure themselves of all the SHAM books they've read over the years). The author made a lot of very good points and provided a good look behind the curtain at the biggest names in the game. There were a few occasions where he might have went a bit far, the notion that none of these books or authors have any value is a bit extreme. A good example of that was his view to It's a real shame this book wasn't a best seller, but then again that would make it just another SHAM book (people reading this to cure themselves of all the SHAM books they've read over the years). The author made a lot of very good points and provided a good look behind the curtain at the biggest names in the game. There were a few occasions where he might have went a bit far, the notion that none of these books or authors have any value is a bit extreme. A good example of that was his view towards, Dale Carnegie "How To Win Friends And Influence People." While the title is terrible there is reason why this book has continued to sell well and so many people swear by it. That the material and impacts are obvious does not diminish the value of the work. However he well within bounds when he takes on and exposes the hypocrisy and self serving nature of numerous other leaders in the SHAM field. This is actually a book that could be broken into three or four books and expanded on greatly. While the material was well covered, one can feel there is much bigger story underlying things. Worth reading, it has given me some things to examine in much greater depth.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ross Armstrong

    This is an expose of the self help and actualization movement, which forms the acronym SHAM. The author worked for a magazine that published their own self help titles and that the publishers knew the information did not work but the whole idea was to keep people buying. It has become known as the 18 month principle. Every 18 months put out a new self help title. There are chapters on Tony Robbins and Phil McGraw and many others showing that in most cases the so called "experts" really have litt This is an expose of the self help and actualization movement, which forms the acronym SHAM. The author worked for a magazine that published their own self help titles and that the publishers knew the information did not work but the whole idea was to keep people buying. It has become known as the 18 month principle. Every 18 months put out a new self help title. There are chapters on Tony Robbins and Phil McGraw and many others showing that in most cases the so called "experts" really have little to no expertise in the areas. One of my favorite bits is about John Gray, the author of "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus". Turns out he has been married five times, including fellow self-help guru Barbara DeAngelis and could not make these work. Some relationship expert! His PHD is not worth the paper it was written on as it was bought from a diploma mill which has since been shut down by the U. S. government. He has admitted to the PHD purchase. Some of this has been repeat information. I have seen at least a couple of other items which have exposed Tony Robbins, including the great debunker James Randi.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Bingham

    This is a book about the Self-Help and Actualization Movement. It describes such people as Tony Robbins, Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura, Suze Orman, Tommy Lasorda, John Gray ('Men are from Mars...') and Marianne Williamson. It describes how shallow their advice often is and these people often inflate their resumes. He is especially vicious in skewering Dr. Laura.The book is a little unfocused however. He tears down a number of prominent experts, but does not give us any guidance about how to tell useful fr This is a book about the Self-Help and Actualization Movement. It describes such people as Tony Robbins, Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura, Suze Orman, Tommy Lasorda, John Gray ('Men are from Mars...') and Marianne Williamson. It describes how shallow their advice often is and these people often inflate their resumes. He is especially vicious in skewering Dr. Laura.The book is a little unfocused however. He tears down a number of prominent experts, but does not give us any guidance about how to tell useful from useless self-serving advice. Some of the advice available out there is certainly of some use. He also gets heavily into the political aspects of the self-help industry, about how it makes us all into victims. It's hard to see exactly where he is coming from, other than criticizing pretty much everything.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Steve Salerno nails exactly self-help is complete and utter [email protected]#$. He does it from the start, when he reports that market study shows the key demographic of self-help book buyers are--wait for it--self-help book buyers. He nails down motivational speakers like Tony Robbins and Stephen Covey. He nails down talk show hosts like Dr.'s Phil and Laura. And he is merciless, laying bare the fraud that is the Self Help and Actualization Movement. Steve Salerno nails exactly self-help is complete and utter [email protected]#$. He does it from the start, when he reports that market study shows the key demographic of self-help book buyers are--wait for it--self-help book buyers. He nails down motivational speakers like Tony Robbins and Stephen Covey. He nails down talk show hosts like Dr.'s Phil and Laura. And he is merciless, laying bare the fraud that is the Self Help and Actualization Movement.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sigurgeir

    "But if this book achieves nothing else, my most fervent hope is that it provokes some thought about the things you always took as 'givens'" says the author who's book seems to take an awful lot as given. This book really annoyed me. Mostly because, while it has some interesting critisisms on the SHAM industry, it does less about working with those criticisms and more of trying to tie them to some right wing, conservative talking points. This book could have honestly been about 50 pages and even "But if this book achieves nothing else, my most fervent hope is that it provokes some thought about the things you always took as 'givens'" says the author who's book seems to take an awful lot as given. This book really annoyed me. Mostly because, while it has some interesting critisisms on the SHAM industry, it does less about working with those criticisms and more of trying to tie them to some right wing, conservative talking points. This book could have honestly been about 50 pages and even that may be more than needed for the parts that are worth reading. The SHAM industry and the alternative medicine that it incorporates is very worthy of critique. They are after all full of grifters and phonies with no real substance or evidence behind them. This book does point this out. But then veers off to complain that divorce rates are up, that masculinity and men aren't appreciated as much, that corporations aren't a ruling machine to act as they please, that there are "touchy feely" things being tought and strangely enough that women are deciding to have children a bit later in life. The author seems to have a wet dream kind of love for family life in the 1950's and prior along with a bunch of misogyny. I'm not interested in this. I'm not interested in hearing talking points that have little to nothing to do with the subject at hand. I don't care for the author making sweeping statements that he doesn't, because he can't, support with evidence himself, sounding like an old Denis Leary stand up or a Tucker Carlson/Bill O'Reilly show. I picked up this book thinking that it was going to be a good critique of the SHAM industry and that the author would spend time debunking or actually going through some of it. He doesn't really. He lists how much money some key figures make. He let's you know that AA groups don't release comprehensive data on their success or failure. That alt medicine doesn't work and is dangerous. But he doesn't actually go into any of it. You are better off watching Adam Ruins Everything or even old Penn and Teller Bullshit episodes on these subjects. You'll get a more comprehensive critique of them there and they will actually work with the evidence they have. It doesn't help that the author doesn't seem to be interested in much actual research either. He prefers to mention things, preferably without references , that seem to support his conservative views and then move on. For instance naming the famous Stella Liebeck Mcdonalds coffee spill case as a "lawsuits gone wild", even though coffee causing 3rd degree burns on someone might be cause for an investigation. He does say that the case was more complicated than it was often made out to be, but then goes right into claiming that people should realise that their own hot coffee is hot. The woman needed skingrafts after the ordeal. If you Google the case you can get, not only the whole story, but you can also see the pictures of what happened. It's not pretty. This sort of shoddy 'reaserch' really shouldn't be uplifted. But I guess since he does hit the right talking points, it is. I can't give this book more than 1 star. Simply because that the critique he offers is better done elsewhere. He doesn't actually go very deep into the problems of the SHAM industry, preferring to talk about other issues with many underlying causes in a conservative talking point way, and what he does of it feels like it could have been condensed into a much shorter and, ultimately, better book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rashida

    3.5 stars, rounded up. What a thought provoking read. I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction the past few years. Some of that non-fiction has included books in the self-help genre. I sometimes found myself through piles of self-help fluff to try to find the gems that are actually useful. This book does a great job of outlining so many of the problems I’ve encountered in such books and in the “guru” entrepreneur culture I’ve noticed developing online. The goal is often not to help you actually im 3.5 stars, rounded up. What a thought provoking read. I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction the past few years. Some of that non-fiction has included books in the self-help genre. I sometimes found myself through piles of self-help fluff to try to find the gems that are actually useful. This book does a great job of outlining so many of the problems I’ve encountered in such books and in the “guru” entrepreneur culture I’ve noticed developing online. The goal is often not to help you actually improve your life, but to upsell another book, another course, another retreat. The book also made me to reconsider the consequences of self-help on society at large. Though I was aware of some of these, such as how the increase in selfishness and narcissism has led to a lot of problems in relationships, and the “war” on men and boys that has resulted in a lot of lost young men, I hadn’t really considered how empowerment or victimization resulting from self-help played so heavily into politics. That being said, there were also significant parts of the book that I disagreed with, especially in the chapters toward the end of the book. Though I agree that there has been a rise in people being coddled and oversensitivity toward what might be considered offensive, I felt as though the author didn’t really consider the people who are indeed struggling with an issue that might be considered stigmatizing or that people don’t believe is “real.” What about people who are struggling with a mental illness and just trying to function in life? It’s not that those people are being over sensitive or exaggerating their symptoms - they have a legitimate problem that might require accommodation, and they might feel rightfully offended when people don’t take it seriously. They’re not simply making excuses for why they are having difficulty functioning, which is an attitude that is all too common in our society. Additionally, while the fields of psychology and psychiatry have their share of problems, they aren’t just sham fields where anything goes. Though we have a lot to learn still about the human mind, therapists and medicine can be life savers for a lot of people and help improve their quality of life. That said, I would probably still recommend this book to anyone who’s taken a dive into the self-help genre to rethink how helpful any of this advice actually is.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Aphrael

    I had a hard time with this book. It has some really interesting information and context for the self help movement. And it was frankly scary to read how this movement has gained legitimacy to the levels it has now, without much proof that it's actually helping. Some snippets of the book were relevant to the present day, but some other bits really haven't aged well. And much of it is simplistic. I would have liked to see more historical context and more discussion about linguistic determinism ra I had a hard time with this book. It has some really interesting information and context for the self help movement. And it was frankly scary to read how this movement has gained legitimacy to the levels it has now, without much proof that it's actually helping. Some snippets of the book were relevant to the present day, but some other bits really haven't aged well. And much of it is simplistic. I would have liked to see more historical context and more discussion about linguistic determinism rather than just a list of people and topics discussed one by one. My main beef is with how much the author is present in the text. At first he just seemed super salty about the self help movement, which was occasionally funny but often seemed like he had an axe to grind. But in later parts of the book he also starts to add in moral judgements on all kinds of issues, which was really annoying. And worst of all pretty much EVERYTHING is the self help movement's fault. Alternative explanations get short mentions but mostly it's self help that creates or maintains the problem. Unfortunately there's not nearly enough evidence or sources listed to adequately prove the author's claims.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Emmy Gregory

    I picked this one up after James Fell (usually a pretty a marvellous chap) recommended it. I was basically on board with this book in the beginning. Yes the thriving self help industry can be a problem. Yes telling people that they can be and do anything without any real kind of plan or hard work on their part is unethical. But then... suddenly a diatribe about "PC culture". Where the hell did that come from? My heart sank. And then: oh, right. This guy is actually just a total prick. How dare f I picked this one up after James Fell (usually a pretty a marvellous chap) recommended it. I was basically on board with this book in the beginning. Yes the thriving self help industry can be a problem. Yes telling people that they can be and do anything without any real kind of plan or hard work on their part is unethical. But then... suddenly a diatribe about "PC culture". Where the hell did that come from? My heart sank. And then: oh, right. This guy is actually just a total prick. How dare feminists tell single mothers (note that the fathers aren't even mentioned here) that they're ok people when they don't have a man? How dare disabled people try to press others to have a more positive attitude towards disability, instead of acknowledging that we're really all train wrecks? People of colour pointing out that racism is a thing? Get out, you pathetic victims! I don't know what happened after that because life is too short to waste on this kind of nasty drivel. This is gonna be one of those "refund me, Audible" moments.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This was an interesting book. I didn't agree with everything that was noted as I have been helped by a few things from self-help books and believe that meditation and chanting (in my opinion, another form of meditation) can be helpful in tapping into your own brain. There were many other parts I agreed with though like self-help gurus not truly helping because they want you to buy more books, the belief that not everyone can do everything just by thinking they can as many self-help experts teach This was an interesting book. I didn't agree with everything that was noted as I have been helped by a few things from self-help books and believe that meditation and chanting (in my opinion, another form of meditation) can be helpful in tapping into your own brain. There were many other parts I agreed with though like self-help gurus not truly helping because they want you to buy more books, the belief that not everyone can do everything just by thinking they can as many self-help experts teach, and how it has turned many people into victims. I read this book because over the last three years I have read over a hundred self-help books and haven't made nearly enough progress for all the time I've put in. This book has helped to push me to be far more selective in the self-help books I do read and drastically but back on the numbers. I only gave it three stars because I did disagree with some points, because it was a bit slow at times, and because I was unfamiliar with quite a few of the self-help gurus he spoke about.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Becky S

    Scathing expose of self help promoters, their books and seminars (and the big money made on all of that!). Salerno is probably preaching to the choir as those who waste their money and time on the self help industry are unlikey to read this. Unnecessarily mean spirited in a few places. For example, James Randi is NOT a repentant magician, as Salerno claims, but a magician who uses his skills to expose 'psychics' who pass magic tricks off as paranormal abilities (as he did with Uri Geller many ye Scathing expose of self help promoters, their books and seminars (and the big money made on all of that!). Salerno is probably preaching to the choir as those who waste their money and time on the self help industry are unlikey to read this. Unnecessarily mean spirited in a few places. For example, James Randi is NOT a repentant magician, as Salerno claims, but a magician who uses his skills to expose 'psychics' who pass magic tricks off as paranormal abilities (as he did with Uri Geller many years ago). The vast majority of the info is eye opening and useful. The chapter on bogus medical treatments (Patient, Heal Thyself) is especially interesting .

  28. 4 out of 5

    Yoric

    Critics against self-help movement are much welcome, as we may get tired of endless praises. Two of them, rather obvious, are: 1/ If the self-help book worked, the people wouldn't need to buy another one on that same specific subject. 2/ The only benefit of self-help book goes to the author themselves. Sadly, the book doesn't dig much deeper. Why self-help psychology would help some people, and not some others? You'll have to figure it out by yourself. Critics against self-help movement are much welcome, as we may get tired of endless praises. Two of them, rather obvious, are: 1/ If the self-help book worked, the people wouldn't need to buy another one on that same specific subject. 2/ The only benefit of self-help book goes to the author themselves. Sadly, the book doesn't dig much deeper. Why self-help psychology would help some people, and not some others? You'll have to figure it out by yourself.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    He had me until all the subtly sexist and racist rants. Can’t believe I paid money for this.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette (Again)

    2.4 stars

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