Psychological Self-Help

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being applicable to all parts of your life, i.e. helpful all the time
with serious problems, minor concerns, and self-improvements of
all kinds. Self-help is for preventing as well as solving problems.
Self-help is for improving in areas in which you are already
adequate or superior. To think of self-help in a more restricted way
will limit your efforts to be a better person. We all need to
periodically review all aspects of our lives, looking for any danger
signs and taking preventive action if it is needed. We must
vigilantly guard against believing that self-help is natural,
automatic, instinctive, easy, unlearned, not-improvable or in God's
hands. All are excuses for doing nothing. We all need to know the
major methods for coping before the trouble strikes
Why should self-help psychology be given away?  How can it be?
The human condition involves an astonishing amount of misery. A
recent national survey (Kessler, et al, 1994) reported that 50% of all
Americans between 15 and 54 have had a diagnosable mental or
emotional disorder sometime during their lifetime. Almost 25% of us
have had a serious psychiatric problem within the last 12 months (less
than 20% got any treatment). One out of five of us is in fairly serious
psychological trouble right now. About 50 million (20%) Americans are
at least mildly depressed (200,000 attempt suicide), 20 million are
anxious neurotics, 10 million turn to alcohol (1 million are in AA), 10
million are arrested for a crime, 5 million are schizophrenic or
antisocial, 12% abused his/her spouse during the last year, 6 to 20
million (12-20%) of our children and teenagers are diagnosable and
13% of 9-17-year-olds have a "serious emotional disorder," 1 million
college students leave school each year because of personal-emotional
problems (1-2 million are addicted to drugs), 50% of marriages end in
divorce and half of the remaining marriages are "empty shells," one of
every seven women has been raped, etc., etc. (U.S. Surgeon General,
1979). During any given month, 15-20% of us Americans suffer from
substance abuse or mental disorder. And, beyond all the serious
problems, the fact is that almost all of us have things--bad habits, self
criticism, lack of motivation, unclear goals--we'd like to change (Kidd,
1974) but can't or don't. We shouldn't remain indifferent to all this
pain. We need a scientifically based system for preventing and
alleviating this misery. 
I believe our greatest hope in the long run, in our country and
throughout the world, is to improve the human condition by using our
fantastic educational systems--schools, TV, computers, self-help
groups, the information highway, etc. Why can't adults learn practical,
useful psychology watching public television and TV soaps? Why can't
useful information be delivered via computer and VCR to a hurting
person just as soon as he/she needs it? Why couldn't all children learn
in school to recognize, prevent, or cope with their personal and
relationship problems? It isn't a new idea; Proverbs in the Bible were
written to "educate in wisdom and moral discipline" and, thus, help
young people, the inexperienced, and everyone (Scott, 1965). The
problems associated with schools, self-help books, talk shows, and
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