Psychological Self-Help

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I believe, like Alfred Adler, that the wide utilization of self-help
psychology is inevitable within your life-time (if you are young).
Psychological coping is like health, everyone has to work on it. And, in
both areas, science is finding more and more ways to improve our
bodies and our personal-interpersonal adjustment. For the last 600 to
800 years, science has steadily advanced; it can be slowed but not
stopped or rolled back. Once you think of an idea, like germs or
evolution or genetics or self-help, you can't un-think it. 
Practical, useful psychology will eventually be taught to everyone
so that we all can cope better with problems, suffer less, love more
fully, and contribute more to others. Comprehensive psycho-social
education is not an impossible dream, but it involves major changes
which no one can foresee today. We only see the problems clearly
now, e.g. most people would agree that the most important part of
growing up is developing character. And, great moral character is not
the hallmark of our society these days. "Character" is defined as
having the ability to control impulses and defer gratification, which is
essential for achievement, performance, and moral conduct. Character
requires self-discipline and moral values, which are not major topics in
our country any more (Etzione, 1993). Indeed, the lack of discipline is
the #1 problem in schools today: classes are often restless, impatient,
disorderly, and disrespectful, resulting in little learning. Much
experimentation about character development is needed, but my faith
in people--and in the usefulness of knowledge--makes me an optimist,
a believer in the eventual goodness of people and in the triumph of
In our early years, we humans seem to be capable of
understanding many of the complexities of life--and doing something
(a lot) about them. As youngsters we can influence our futures; the
earlier we start the better. Walter Mischel (1988) has shown that 4-
year-olds, who have learned how to distract themselves and resist
temptations, like candy, are more able to concentrate, make friends,
do well on the SAT, and deal with stress as teenagers. Self-taught self-
control apparently has important consequences (science doesn't know
yet if self-control taught to us by others has the same implications as
self-taught self-control but possibly so). The teen years and young
adulthood are also important in many ways: you develop trust or
distrust of yourself and others; you acquire attitudes, habits, values,
and emotional reactions which will have great impact on your entire
life. Youth isn't just a time for living day to day, as some think; the
early and teen years form the basis for much that you will become.
You can change at anytime in your life, even on your death bed, but it
is harder if you haven't had much practice self-changing earlier in life. 
So, hopefully, you can now see the big picture of where we are
going. Clearly, a life-long psycho-social education isn't just one book
or one course. Learning to cope is an unending task from birth to
death. It is a process of realizing your personal and social problems, of
deciding on the important purposes of your life, of planning how to
accomplish as many of those goals as possible, and, then, gathering
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