Psychological Self-Help

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knowledge. Certainly the public doesn't end up clamoring for more
useful knowledge (unless they are in a crisis and desperate). We as a
society don't need more titillation by aberrant behavior, sex, or shrill
arguments; we need more insight into human behavior and feelings,
more honest useful facts, and more practical research about effectively
handling common, ordinary problems. We need to be able to separate
the informative shows from entertainment based on someone's rare,
abnormal, and pitiable behavior. (We also need to confront our own
compelling, unquenchable thirst for entertainment.) 
The media
Except for a few public television series, television has given us
very little practical psychological education. Useful information has not
been made and probably can't be made interesting enough to draw our
attention away from the romantic glamour of the soaps, the intrigue of
a murder mystery, the thrill of a chase, the sexual excitement of a
seduction, or the humor of a comic. What does this mean? Are we
doomed to the hell of eternal psychological ignorance? No. I think it
means we have to change psychological education, perhaps using the
soaps as a way of describing solutions to problems as well as
describing the innumerable conflicts of humans. This means self-help
specialists should be writing soaps. Most importantly, as the
effectiveness of psychological knowledge is proven, I think the general
public will give up some of its mental masturbation via entertainment
TV and turn to more worthwhile and informative programs. We are
learning to eat healthy food instead of high fat junk food and desserts,
so we can learn to absorb healthy information instead of TV junk. Put
on helpful shows about attracting a good mate, overcoming bad
habits, handling anger, tactfully asserting yourself, or having orgasms
and people will watch. Changing our TV viewing habits will take some
intentional coping, however. 
Since churches teach religious beliefs and morals, it is possible that
they could also teach useful psychology to help us cope. While the
relationship between religion and psychology is generally quiet, there
is a reserve and distrust between the disciplines that interferes with
many ministers actively endorsing applied psychology. For one thing,
many preachers are not well trained in psychology or counseling,
although some are very well trained. The most likely inter-disciplinary
barrier is that self-help psychology believes you should think for
yourself. This carries the risk to religion that you might even question
the dictates of your religion. Most churches would be uncomfortable
with that much individual freedom of thought. Religions are
authoritarian organizations preaching "the truth," rather than
searching for scientific laws and "the truth" through science. Religions
tell you how to live and condemn living any other way even though a
majority of their members actually "stray," e.g. having premarital sex
and using birth control. This conflict over who should be in control of
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