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Self Help Books

As the son of the queen of self-help books, I am, then, the prince of pop psychology: I have read as many if not more self help books as my mom. Back in the day, we had therapy but we either didn’t have money for it (and companies surely didn’t cover it in any insurance plans… ever) or we didn’t want to deal with the stigma that small town mentalities would inevitably put on one who had to visit the “nuthouse” or get his or her head “shrunk”. The next best thing, for first my mom and then, by proxy, for me, was to read the latest self-help books.

The first one I recall in relation to my brilliant and avid, voracious, reader mother was Gail Sheehy’s PASSAGES, a brilliant survey of all of the stages of life and the instrumental changes each person at each stage undergoes. The last one I remember my mother sharing with me was one of the many self help books I needed, unfortunately, despite (or as supplement to) my weekly therapy sessions: THE COURAGE TO HEAL (a fat ass book of a size sufficient to using it as a doorstop, and its accompanying workbook).

In between the self-help books Mom would pass on to me or I would snatch up as soon as she finished reading them and the self-help books I only occasionally indulge in now were at least 1500 self-help books on love, sexuality, spirituality, religion, and the paranormal. There was the life-saving (literally, not figuratively and not exagerratedly) book by Melody Beatty called CODEPENDENT NO MORE; the brilliant compilations by Thomas Moore, such as SOUL MATES and CARE of the SOUL: A GUIDE to CULTIVATING DEPTH and SACREDNESS in EVERYDAY LIFE and Diane Ackerman, with her books A NATURAL HISTORY of the SENSES and A NATURAL HISTORY of LOVE; Shakti Gawain’s LIVING IN THE LIGHT: A GUIDE to PERSONAL and PLANETARY TRANSFORMATION; James Redfield’s THE CELESTINE PROPHECY and THE TENTH INSIGHT; David Viscott’s HOW to LIVE with ANOTHER PERSON; and the stunning imperative read, NECESSARY LOSSES, by Judith Viorst.

There are hundreds more self-help books I could list here, of course, but you will have to find for yourself the ones that appeal to and work best for you and your situation/needs. According to one psychologist, though, it is better to use self-help books in moderation and to do so in conjunction with therapeutic treatment. And since today we can thank the self-help master above for head-shrinkers and guardians of nutbags, that we can do.

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