Help for the Self-Help Industry?
Abstract<p>A quick glance through the self-help section of any bookstore suggests that there are thousands of books attempting to answer the various self-improvement questions that preoccupy Americans: How can I lose weight? How can I improve my self-esteem? Is my family dysfunctional? A recent study by an independent market research firm confirms that the self-help industry is a huge business, with $640 million in book sales in 2004 (Marketdata Enterprises, 2004). Self-help books are so numerous and varied in their subject matter and approach that it would seem difficult to make accurate generalizations about the entire genre. Recently, however, some have leveled criticisms at the industry, largely on the basis of the assertion that the majority of self-help books rely on unsubstantiated and unscientific claims to inform their advice and interventions (e.g., Salerno, 2005).</p><p>Such criticisms are the basis for the new book by Paul Pearsall, himself a veteran of the self-help industry, with 15 previous titles to his credit. Although the title The Last Self-Help Book You'll Ever Need: Repress Your Anger, Think Negatively, Be a Good Blamer, and Throttle Your Inner Child would suggest otherwise, Pearsall states that he does not want all self-help books consigned to