ABSTRACT

Self-care and personal development are big business. ‘Infomercials’, self-help books, audiobooks and apps, weight loss programmes, motivational speakers, and personal coaching services all promise the path to health, wealth, and success. This chapter explores the main themes in the self-help movement, that is, solving problems and promoting growth. It finds four categories of self-help: growth, relationships, coping, and identity. The industry prototype for the modern self-help book is Samuel Smile’s Self-Help in 1859, and modern authors use the same themes today. These are positive thinking, self-reliance, hard work, a strength of character, and better habits, all wrapped up in moralizing. The chapter cites several pop psychology myths to help the reader make better choices and offers a plan using self-reflection, journaling, and study skills tips to help readers get the most out of using books for therapy and growth.