Authors of Self-help Books, are they perfect?

Use this forum to discuss the September 2021 Philosophy Book of the Month, If Life Stinks, Get Your Head Outta Your But's by Mark L. Wdowiak
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Sushan
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Authors of Self-help Books, are they perfect?

Post by Sushan »

This topic is about the September 2021 Philosophy Book of the Month, If Life Stinks, Get Your Head Outta Your But's by Mark L. Wdowiak


I think that people who write these self-help books have had experiences which have made them wiser or maybe they have put in a great deal of study into human behavior and they think that their experiences can actually help guide a few people in similar dilemmas.

What makes someone think that their life is so perfect that they can tell others how to live theirs? And how is it that they are so confident about what they need to do in a given situation when most of us are assailed by doubts and uncertainties? These authors of self-help books, are they perfect?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

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Re: Authors of Self-help Books, are they perfect?

Post by JackDaydream »

@Sushan

I don't think that the implication of self-help books is necessarily that the person' s life is perfect. It is more about sharing. Obviously, it is hard to generalize because the various writers come from different approaches. Some are more inclined to recommend exercises than others. I prefer ones which are more about reflection. The ones which I find helpful are more about ways of thinking differently, including topics such as cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, which are like philosophy applied to the personal life. Some self-help books can be inspirational, and this applies to most genres of books, but I do believe that inspiration is more important really rather than writing which is 'dry', regardless of the knowledge of the author.
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Re: Authors of Self-help Books, are they perfect?

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JackDaydream wrote: September 1st, 2021, 3:56 am @Sushan

I don't think that the implication of self-help books is necessarily that the person' s life is perfect. It is more about sharing. Obviously, it is hard to generalize because the various writers come from different approaches. Some are more inclined to recommend exercises than others. I prefer ones which are more about reflection. The ones which I find helpful are more about ways of thinking differently, including topics such as cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, which are like philosophy applied to the personal life. Some self-help books can be inspirational, and this applies to most genres of books, but I do believe that inspiration is more important really rather than writing which is 'dry', regardless of the knowledge of the author.
One can learn from his own life and correct his own mistakes. There are several people in the history who have gone beyond that and have advised others how to live. And some of them have many numbers of followers; i.e. - Lord Buddha, Jesus Christ. And we generally accept that they had something superior to the normal human beings. Even we respect and follow many political leaders, rebel leaders, etc. In all that we accept that they had something above us which made them suitable to advice others. I think the authors of self-help books too should be like them, and do all of them carry such qualities?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

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Re: Authors of Self-help Books, are they perfect?

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@Sushan

If we waited for people like Jesus and the Buddha as examples of how to live we would probably be waiting a long time for books. I know many people who feel helped so much by self-help books on topics ranging from depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other aspects of life. I am not sure that people really are looking for the expertise of those who are 'perfect' because it is a bit remote. To some extent it is easier to see the way the flawed person has coped, and, of course, we do have the knowledge of the people who are seen as being the best examples already for underlying inspiration as well.
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Re: Authors of Self-help Books, are they perfect?

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JackDaydream wrote: September 1st, 2021, 12:15 pm @Sushan

If we waited for people like Jesus and the Buddha as examples of how to live we would probably be waiting a long time for books. I know many people who feel helped so much by self-help books on topics ranging from depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other aspects of life. I am not sure that people really are looking for the expertise of those who are 'perfect' because it is a bit remote. To some extent it is easier to see the way the flawed person has coped, and, of course, we do have the knowledge of the people who are seen as being the best examples already for underlying inspiration as well.
Depression and OCD are clinical scenarios which are managed by psychiatric experts. Atleast a trained doctor or a counseler in psychiatry should approach such a patient. It is acceptable if such a professional has written a book for such patients in the nature of a self-help book. Still that should only be used as a guide because patient has to be assesed by a clinician. There are many self-help books which are self published even without going through an editor. How can we be sure about the authenticity of such books and authors?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

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Re: Authors of Self-help Books, are they perfect?

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JackDaydream wrote: September 1st, 2021, 3:56 am @Sushan

I don't think that the implication of self-help books is necessarily that the person' s life is perfect. It is more about sharing. Obviously, it is hard to generalize because the various writers come from different approaches. Some are more inclined to recommend exercises than others. I prefer ones which are more about reflection. The ones which I find helpful are more about ways of thinking differently, including topics such as cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, which are like philosophy applied to the personal life. Some self-help books can be inspirational, and this applies to most genres of books, but I do believe that inspiration is more important really rather than writing which is 'dry', regardless of the knowledge of the author.
Very good post. Obviously pop psychology is more about new ways of looking at old problems which is equal parts entertaining reading and helpful. Some of the readership have already heard that insight, but it will be new to many. None of these insights are groundbreaking, which explains why there are so many books and more being published all the time. If one was obviously the best, there'd only be one book.
"As usual... it depends."
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Re: Authors of Self-help Books, are they perfect?

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LuckyR wrote: September 2nd, 2021, 2:38 am
JackDaydream wrote: September 1st, 2021, 3:56 am @Sushan

I don't think that the implication of self-help books is necessarily that the person' s life is perfect. It is more about sharing. Obviously, it is hard to generalize because the various writers come from different approaches. Some are more inclined to recommend exercises than others. I prefer ones which are more about reflection. The ones which I find helpful are more about ways of thinking differently, including topics such as cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, which are like philosophy applied to the personal life. Some self-help books can be inspirational, and this applies to most genres of books, but I do believe that inspiration is more important really rather than writing which is 'dry', regardless of the knowledge of the author.
Very good post. Obviously pop psychology is more about new ways of looking at old problems which is equal parts entertaining reading and helpful. Some of the readership have already heard that insight, but it will be new to many. None of these insights are groundbreaking, which explains why there are so many books and more being published all the time. If one was obviously the best, there'd only be one book.
That is a good point. Many of these books actually help the readers, or atleast the readers think so. Yet none of them are perfect for everyone, so there is a place for each and every self-help book that can reach an acceptable amount of audience. People try to look at problems in new and different ways, and some find (or think that they found) solutions for them. Then they decide to write it and publish it as a book. But the issue is how can the reader (or even the author) be certain that solution is correct and suitable? What is the governing body or the deciding factor?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

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Re: Authors of Self-help Books, are they perfect?

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Sushan wrote: September 2nd, 2021, 2:49 am
LuckyR wrote: September 2nd, 2021, 2:38 am
JackDaydream wrote: September 1st, 2021, 3:56 am @Sushan

I don't think that the implication of self-help books is necessarily that the person' s life is perfect. It is more about sharing. Obviously, it is hard to generalize because the various writers come from different approaches. Some are more inclined to recommend exercises than others. I prefer ones which are more about reflection. The ones which I find helpful are more about ways of thinking differently, including topics such as cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, which are like philosophy applied to the personal life. Some self-help books can be inspirational, and this applies to most genres of books, but I do believe that inspiration is more important really rather than writing which is 'dry', regardless of the knowledge of the author.
Very good post. Obviously pop psychology is more about new ways of looking at old problems which is equal parts entertaining reading and helpful. Some of the readership have already heard that insight, but it will be new to many. None of these insights are groundbreaking, which explains why there are so many books and more being published all the time. If one was obviously the best, there'd only be one book.
That is a good point. Many of these books actually help the readers, or atleast the readers think so. Yet none of them are perfect for everyone, so there is a place for each and every self-help book that can reach an acceptable amount of audience. People try to look at problems in new and different ways, and some find (or think that they found) solutions for them. Then they decide to write it and publish it as a book. But the issue is how can the reader (or even the author) be certain that solution is correct and suitable? What is the governing body or the deciding factor?
Once the potential reader knows how they personally learn best, they'll know what to try. Positive vs negative, detailed vs general, srategy vs tactics etc.
"As usual... it depends."
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Re: Authors of Self-help Books, are they perfect?

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As an outsider, you cannot know everyone.
There can be no advice from an atuhor that could perfectly help any other self, since they author is not that self but another.
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Re: Authors of Self-help Books, are they perfect?

Post by JackDaydream »

@Sushan

I think that the deciding factor in choosing methods of self-help from books has to be based on what works and it is about experimentation. Of course, what works at one time may not always work, or it may be that none of the ones we read will help at all.

It probably depends on the nature of the topic because some are about practical problems and some about deeper issues. I have got to the point where I try and avoid reading books on writing because it would be possible to spend a life reading them and not write at all. I found, 'On Writing, ' by Stephen King, to be the most helpful. Last year, I got to the point where I began reading books on tidying because I struggle with that. The one most helpful tip which I found was the suggestion that in decluttering, it is important to stand back and think what items are really important emotionally as a starting point for deciding what to get rid of. One topic which I also found that there is a lot worth reading on is the topic of mindfulness, and I have discovered that a lot of other people I know have found this too.
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Re: Authors of Self-help Books, are they perfect?

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I think the answer to this question depends a lot on your state of mind when reading self help books. There are some times when a books says exactly what you need to hear at the right time.
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Re: Authors of Self-help Books, are they perfect?

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LuckyR wrote: September 2nd, 2021, 2:53 am
Sushan wrote: September 2nd, 2021, 2:49 am
LuckyR wrote: September 2nd, 2021, 2:38 am
JackDaydream wrote: September 1st, 2021, 3:56 am @Sushan

I don't think that the implication of self-help books is necessarily that the person' s life is perfect. It is more about sharing. Obviously, it is hard to generalize because the various writers come from different approaches. Some are more inclined to recommend exercises than others. I prefer ones which are more about reflection. The ones which I find helpful are more about ways of thinking differently, including topics such as cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, which are like philosophy applied to the personal life. Some self-help books can be inspirational, and this applies to most genres of books, but I do believe that inspiration is more important really rather than writing which is 'dry', regardless of the knowledge of the author.
Very good post. Obviously pop psychology is more about new ways of looking at old problems which is equal parts entertaining reading and helpful. Some of the readership have already heard that insight, but it will be new to many. None of these insights are groundbreaking, which explains why there are so many books and more being published all the time. If one was obviously the best, there'd only be one book.
That is a good point. Many of these books actually help the readers, or atleast the readers think so. Yet none of them are perfect for everyone, so there is a place for each and every self-help book that can reach an acceptable amount of audience. People try to look at problems in new and different ways, and some find (or think that they found) solutions for them. Then they decide to write it and publish it as a book. But the issue is how can the reader (or even the author) be certain that solution is correct and suitable? What is the governing body or the deciding factor?
Once the potential reader knows how they personally learn best, they'll know what to try. Positive vs negative, detailed vs general, srategy vs tactics etc.
The difference between a book and a human mentor is the ability or inability to clarify things by questioning. This becomes a problem will books because it is solely up to the reader to decide whether the content is correct and useful. Some readers can be totally misguided by the books while many books can be very much useful. So, yes, the reader should be mindful and inquisitive about what he/she reads despite how convincing the book is written.
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

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Re: Authors of Self-help Books, are they perfect?

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Sculptor1 wrote: September 2nd, 2021, 4:01 am As an outsider, you cannot know everyone.
There can be no advice from an atuhor that could perfectly help any other self, since they author is not that self but another.
You have a point. Advice should be tailor-made, and that requirement is hardly fulfilled by self-help books for all their intended audience. It is better for anyone to have a human mentor if possible, rather than reading hundreds of self-help books. So it is hard to recommend these books to anyone as all humans are different from each other, and though the problem is similar the acceptable solution can be different from person to person.
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

– William James
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Re: Authors of Self-help Books, are they perfect?

Post by Sushan »

JackDaydream wrote: September 2nd, 2021, 12:05 pm @Sushan

I think that the deciding factor in choosing methods of self-help from books has to be based on what works and it is about experimentation. Of course, what works at one time may not always work, or it may be that none of the ones we read will help at all.

It probably depends on the nature of the topic because some are about practical problems and some about deeper issues. I have got to the point where I try and avoid reading books on writing because it would be possible to spend a life reading them and not write at all. I found, 'On Writing, ' by Stephen King, to be the most helpful. Last year, I got to the point where I began reading books on tidying because I struggle with that. The one most helpful tip which I found was the suggestion that in decluttering, it is important to stand back and think what items are really important emotionally as a starting point for deciding what to get rid of. One topic which I also found that there is a lot worth reading on is the topic of mindfulness, and I have discovered that a lot of other people I know have found this too.
Yes, there are self-help books that are written for more practical purposes as well as spiritual purposes. I personally have no pleasant thoughts about these spiritual books because they are written not by people who are confirmed as spiritually superior, but are self defined as such by their own measuring sticks.

On the other hand there are books written for practical help, like how to be ridy, how to wake up early, etc. These are actually experimented by the author or someone that he know of and have been successful. So there is a chance for these to work in the reader's life as well. So, if one want to get actual help from self-help books, I think it is better to go towards practical side than being spiritual.
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

– William James
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Re: Authors of Self-help Books, are they perfect?

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Fellowmater wrote: September 2nd, 2021, 11:09 pm I think the answer to this question depends a lot on your state of mind when reading self help books. There are some times when a books says exactly what you need to hear at the right time.
When come to consoling some people there are specific things that they wish to hear, and until they get that they will go from one person to another. This approach can be seen when someone wants to know that some bad effect occurred not due to his/her fault. The moment they here 'it is not your fault' they are relieved, yet the problem that they created remains. So if a book tells what you expect to hear, that may be only a consolation prize but not the actual solution for your problem.
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

– William James
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