Personal Improvement Is Big Business. Can Self-Help Literature, Programs Actually Help?
Self-improvement books have become part of American culture, but do they really work?
What's behind the compulsion to remake ourselves better than ever?
There are a lot of different types of self-help books, programs and franchises covering a wide range of topics. They often detail step-by-step plans to achieve goals, recovery or general success through instruction, exercises and tracking personal progress.
But how helpful are self-help books, really? Can the self-improvement section actually show me how to live my best life?
How seriously do you have to take them to get results? Does "self help" work better for certain people or specific kinds of goals?
How did the desire to improve ourselves become such big business? How common are scams in this category, and how can you tell the difference?
- Beth Blum, Ph.D., English professor at Harvard University and author of “The Self-Help Compulsion: Searching for Advice in Modern Literature”
- Susan Whitbourne, Ph.D., professor emerita of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
- Chris Taylor, deputy editor for Mashable
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*This interview was recorded on Thursday, November 19.