Discussion 5: Self-Help
“The Self-Help Industry is a Sham”. Discuss.
Given the chance, few people would say no to getting rich, losing weight, improving relationships, finding happiness or achieving success. The idea that the power to achieve these goals lies so in our own hands simply by altering patterns of behaviour, is inevitably a seductive one. The self-help industry is now a multi-million dollar industry, worth more than $10bn alone in the US and earning publishers more than £60m in the UK in the past 5 years (Jarvis, 2011). Psychological advice on how to alter our lives would have once been provided by personal consultations with professionals however, we now live in an era where the mass media has provided many cheaper alternatives making the industry a goldmine. While it is said that books like ‘Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus’ or ‘Don’t worry, Make Money’ sell the secrets to relationships, happiness and wealth, for others it is said that the self-help industry is just a sham, based on making profits from the comforting illusions created by success marketing that these things are really for sale. Salerno, (2005) suggests that the self-help movement roughly divides into two areas empowerment and victimisation. Empowerment broadly speaking pitches the idea that you are fully responsible for all you do, good and bad (pg 26). Therefore being the master of your own fate, you can achieve anything. A notion developed by authors such as Rhonda Byrne and ‘The Secret’, selling the ‘law of attraction’ and the idea that successful people bring positive things to themselves merely by thinking about them (Smythe, 2007). However, it can be suggested that the self-help industry is just a re-packaged power of positive thinking which has been proved to improve behavioural functioning, but ideas like the ‘law of attraction’ created by individuals with very little credentials is just an extension of this, but giving the guarantee that every wish will come true...
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