Psychological Self-Help

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research, not more testimonials, is needed to evaluate the effects of
positive addictions and to investigate which positive addictions work
best with what kind of people and with what problems. But it is an
Popular how-to-be-the-greatest books and programs 
Inspirational, confidence-building books sell by the million. None
have ever been objectively evaluated to see the results, but people
buy them, probably because they do motivate us, at least for a day or
two. They are often written by successful business or sales people or
by ministers. Psychologists write in areas related to motivation:
assertiveness (chapters 8 & 13), self-acceptance (chapters 9 & 14),
and self-direction or self-instruction (chapters 5, 11, and this one), but
these writings deal with learning skills, not just getting inspiration. 
The popular "success" books take four main approaches: 
Confidence building. The common belief is that you can't sell a
product or love someone else until you believe in yourself or
love yourself (Amos & Amos, 1988; Zigler, 1987). So, these
books essentially tell you to recognize your strong points and to
tell yourself you are the greatest. 
Setting goals and utilizing time effectively (Lee, 1978; Lakein,
1973). While these are important skills and have been
discussed in this chapter and chapter 2, the goals need to be
more than vague hopes and an occasional motivational
speaker. Some seminars or longer programs about goal setting,
however, involve lectures and tapes costing several hundred
dollars (Meyer, 1988). 
Inspirational. These books give many illustrations of exceptional
people and unusual successes (Simonton, 1994; Ferguson,
1990; Waitley, 1983; Stone, 1962). Michael Jordan's I Can't
Accept Not Trying is a good example. Other writers emphasize
the "power of positive thinking" (Peale, 1952; Schuller, 1973).
The techniques involve fantasizing about being successful (like
in achievement training), modeling and rehearsal, repeating
hopeful beliefs (called affirmations), giving your self pep talks,
and so on. Of special psychological interest is Lillian Rubin's
(1996) Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight which tells stories
of people overcoming horrible childhood experiences. I find the
caring stories in Canfield & Hansen (1991, 1993, 1995, 1996)
to be heart-warming; they make me value goodness and look
for it in others; they help me be good. 
Understanding human needs. Some of these books explain how
to present products and ideas so that they meet people’s needs
and, thus, sell (Dichter, 1971). Many other books describe how
to influence or motivate others--usually for your benefit
(Carnegie, 1936). 
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