What is Self-Help?
Self-help, also commonly known as self-improvement, refers to personal development. Personal development usually has a spiritual or psychological foundation and is often categorized under economic improvement, intellectual improvement, or emotional improvement. The key components of self-help are self-reliance, publicly accessible literature, and support groups.
Benefits of Self-Help Groups
Self-help groups are centered on peer-to-peer support, and there are literally thousands available for an individual suffering from any emotional, physical or spiritual problem.
Some of the benefits of self-help groups are:
- Friendship and networking
- Emotional reinforcement
- Knowledge acquired and shared through experience
- Help with re-establishing identity and boosting self-confidence
- Meaningful roles and service work
- Personal growth
- A sense of belonging
Self-development is a billion-dollar industry and is available in many different forms, such as:
- Infomercials, which are aired on national and local television channels.
- Mail-order catalogs obtained by writing or emailing the production company, prominent examples include: Comfortably Yours: Aids for Easier Living, The Do-able Renewable Home, and Tools for Living
- Holistic Institutes, meaning institutes that provide mind, body, heart, and spiritual services for an individual. Services include massages, acupuncture, weight loss programs, therapy directed at self-motivation and self-empowerment, and spiritual healing.
Self-help books are one of the most popular modes of self-help and are meant to aid the reader in successfully resolving any number of personal issues. Simplified psychology and characteristics of human behaviors are two methods of discussion usually found in a self-help book. Two examples of self-help books are the Dummies Guides and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to:
- Audio cassettes/CDs or iPod downloads usually profile a motivational speaker
- Seminars include a motivational speaker and an advertised self-help program
- Personal and life coaching
- Stress management programs
Famous Self-Help Books
Historically, the self-help movement began to evolve when Dale Carnegie published his famous book in 1936 – How to Win Friends and Influence People. Dale Carnegie was, reportedly, obsessed with the link between success and self-esteem. His various books have sold over 50 million copies worldwide.
Think and Grow Rich, published in 1937 and written by Napoleon Hill, was another key influence for the booming self-help industry. Hill discussed the use of positive thinking to attract happiness, wealth, and satisfaction by utilizing “infinite intelligence.”
Recently, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne became a blockbuster hit in the self-improvement market. She discusses and demonstrates how positive thoughts and images will lead to obtaining what we visualize for our lives.
Critiques Of Self-Help
Although the self-help industry is growing every year, some critics disagree about whether or not self-help books and programs give “easy answers to difficult personal problems.” Author, Wendy Kaminer, questions the self-help market in her book – I’m Dysfunctional, You’re Dysfunctional. She criticizes the self-help movement for motivating individuals to work on self-improvement alone rather than joining a social movement to resolve personal issues.
Understanding the Limitations of Self-Help for Addiction Recovery
While self-help books provide valuable benefits for recovery, they should not be used as a substitute for traditional addiction treatments. Detoxification, counseling, and holistic treatment are the best foundation for self-help. Self-help is effective when a person can:
- Define the problem clearly
- Approach treatment efficiently
- Give the time and effort needed to achieve the desired result
Someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol suffers from an impaired mind, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking problems, which are extremely difficult to cure solely with self-help. For better results, people should also check out 12 step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Nicotine Anonymous.