Psychological Self-Help

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instruction--the most cost effective source of help--has been neglected
or mishandled, while expensive and questionable sources of help have
flourished, such as individual psychotherapy, psychiatric drug
prescriptions, chiropractors, faith healing, astrology, mystical
channeling or past lives therapy, illegal drugs for pleasure, etc.
The publishing business and self-help books 
The first thing you need to know is that, unlike drugs, self-help
trade books (mass market books in local bookstores) are not "tested
for effectiveness." These books, even those written by journalists and
free lance writers, aren't even reviewed by psychological experts for
accuracy, effectiveness, or dangerousness of the ideas. Instead, the
publishers seek books that seem likely to sell because the topic is
"hot" or the book has an attractive "gimmick." The largest publishers
require that writers have a literary agent before they will even
consider a manuscript. Thus, it is these agents who really select the
books for the big New York publishers. Agents ask "will it sell," not
"will it help?" Later, if the book is printed, the publisher's sales
representatives have only seconds (maybe a single sentence) to sell a
book to big bookstore buyers (there are 50,000 new books every
year). By contrast, professional books, like college textbooks or books
for psychotherapists, which you won't find in the usual bookstore, are
very carefully reviewed by several highly respected professionals
(because no teacher would use a textbook with glaring errors). With
self-help books (almost all are trade books) the attitude is "let the
buyer beware." Selecting a highly advertised "best seller" tells you
almost nothing about the scientific quality of the book. In fact, only
about half of the so-called "best sellers" are considered good books by
mental health professionals (Santrock, Minnett, & Campbell, 1944).
Publishing a self-help book is not a highly scientific process. 
Next, you need to realize that more than 2,000 self-help books are
published each year. So, over the last 25 years more than 20,000 such
books (maybe 40-50,000) have been pushed by bookstores. That
sounds like a very commendable effort to help you, but the question
is: What is the main motivation of many publishers, helping the
suffering or making money? No doubt, some care; most are more
concerned with making money (yet, supposedly 75% of published
books lose money). Many new books merely repeat what has already
been written. It is also not unfair to point out that several
psychologists have complained that their own book publishers have
made exaggerated claims. Do you suppose these untrue
advertisements are for benefiting people in crisis or for profits? Did
you ever see a publisher recommend that you look up his/her best
books at the library? 
Publishers seem to believe that people will not try to generally self-
improve or prevent problems. We readers are assumed to be so stupid
that we will only seek help after we are in trouble. Therefore, the self-
help book industry publishes books about specific, serious crises which
will drive us (while in distress) to buy their books. Fortunately, many
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