Psychological Self-Help

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One can't use what one doesn't know. But increased self-scrutiny brings more self-
assessment... and more self-understanding.
So how can you find knowledge to deal with your own problems?
I'd start by skimming the chapter(s) in this book covering your
problem. It selects the best from among thousands of books and
should give you some good references. If you need more information,
call or go to a large public library because it probably has a
computerized card catalog that will help you find some self-help books
in your specific problem areas--and the books are free. Usually, a
library's selection of self-help books is very limited, however. They
often have 20 books on the same topic, e.g. dieting or stress
management, and none in 20 other problem areas. Libraries also have
very old, out-dated books; I'd avoid most books written before 1970,
unless they are in specialized areas or classics. I'd question even those
written before 1980, although I've cited several. Local bookstores, of
course, stock several self-help books, but only a few of the thousands
of new publications and hundreds of old classics. Bookstores are
clearly designed to serve the needs of the publishers, and only
incidentally do they serve the needs of a person needing information.
Since reading a book can be time consuming (and may give poor
advice), select your material carefully...if possible skim 2 or 3 books
for readability, specific advice (generalities don't help much),
religiosity (avoid books that suggest turning every problem over to
God; that's not self-help), and for references to other work (be
skeptical of any self-help book which doesn't give credit to its sources
of information). More guidelines to buying self-help books are given at
the end of this section. 
As suggested in method #1 in this chapter, read psychological case
studies asking, "Could this be true of me too?" And if you answer
"yes," which should be much of the time, then there should be a place-
-a notebook or journal--where you record information relevant to your
particular concerns. There is so much information today that it is not
valuable per se; information is valuable if it is relevant to a problem
and used. 
University libraries and academic psychology books are usually
useless for the non-professional. Most psychology textbooks, such as
Theories of Personality, Psychology of Adjustment, Abnormal
Psychology, etc., are general and descriptive, not prescriptive. They
don't tell you much about how to deal with personal problems. Even
when they are application oriented, they usually tell a therapist how to
help a patient rather than helping the person with the problem help
him/herself. Psychology textbooks are theory and research oriented,
interesting but not very personally useful. Textbooks have slick
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