Self-help: To millions of Americans it seems like a godsend. To many others it
seems like a joke. But as investigative reporter Steve Salerno reveals in this
groundbreaking book, it's neitherin fact it's much worse than a joke. Going
deep inside the Self-Help and Actualization Movement (fittingly, the words form
the acronym SHAM), Salerno offers the first serious exposé of this
multibillion-dollar industry and the real damage it is doingnot just to its
paying customers, but to all of American society.
Based on the author's extensive reportingand the inside look at the industry he
got while working at a leading "lifestyle" publisherSHAM shows how
thinly credentialed "experts" now dispense advice on everything from mental
health to relationships to diet to personal finance to business strategy.
Americans spend upward of $8 billion every year on self-help programs and
products. And those staggering financial costs are actually the least of our
SHAM demonstrates how the self-help movement's core philosophies have
infected virtually every aspect of American lifethe home, the workplace, the
schools, and more. And Salerno exposes the downside of being uplifted, showing
how the "empowering" message that dominates self-help today proves just as
damaging as the blame-shifting rhetoric of self-help's "Recovery" movement.
SHAM also reveals:
How self-help gurus conduct extensive market research to reach the same
customers over and overwithout ever helping them.
The inside story on the most notorious gurusfrom Dr. Phil to Dr. Laura, from
Tony Robbins to John Gray.
How your company might be wasting money on motivational speakers, "executive
coaches," and other quick fixes that often hurt quality, productivity, and
How the Recovery movement has eradicated notions of personal responsibility by
labeling just about anythingfrom drug abuse to "sex addiction" to shopliftinga
dysfunction or disease.
How Americans blindly accept that twelve-step programs offer the only hope of
treating addiction, when in fact these programs can do more harm than good.
How the self-help movement inspired the disastrous emphasis on self-esteem in
How self-help rhetoric has pushed people away from proven medical treatments
by persuading them that they can cure themselves through sheer application of
As Salerno shows, to describe self-help as a waste of time and money vastly
understates its collateral damage. And with SHAM, the self-help industry
has finally been called to account for the damage it has done.
Library Journal - Lynne F Maxwell
[His] conclusion would have been much more persuasive if he had dispensed with the vitriol. Wendy Kaminer's I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional: The Recovery Movement and Other Self-Help Fashions is a more effective critique.
Booklist - Ray Olson
A wonderfully lucid, angeringly cogent polemic.
In addition to detailing the raw facts, Salerno excels at pinpointing the self-abnegating strategy the self-help industry employs: namely, tearing you down in the name of building you up. And the positivity yields questionable results in any case. The self-help industry should not be dismissed as "silly but benign," says Salerno, and he documents how it has undermined psychology, education and health care in this blistering critique.
Greg Critser, author of Fat Land
Funny, naughty, and wise, Steve Salerno's SHAM is the must-read antidote to Dr. Phil, Tony Robbins, and the whole cracked pot of American pop psychology.
Dr. Michael Hurd, author of Effective Therapy
In an age of self-help, why are so many Americans helpless? Why do so many
self-help gurus, from Dr. Phil on down, create followers rather than independent
souls? Steve Salerno exposes the SHAM with ruthless honesty destined to make more than a few people angry.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by www.claudette.ws Are you serious Steve, How can you possbile sleep at night trying to instill your philosophy of putting down education, self improvement and positive action on others!
WOW--- they really do walk among us and then even try to write a book! Not a book, trash... Read More
Rated of 5
by Dr Lewis The shame of pushing shams Salerno's book needs to be read by all who purport to help others. When the basic motivation is to make money and self-promotion the needs of others (their 'clients') are lost. Unfortunately those who pay for the works of these shamans cannot look... Read More
Rated of 5
by stendek73 All build up, no money shot This book leaves the reader hanging.
Chapter after chapter of insight into the seedy under belly of self help, yet at the end, the book offers no option from said under belly. I want to sober up, but I wish to do it in a secular manner. Steve,... Read More
spends about $8 billion a year
on self-help programs and
products. To put this in
context, according to
Photius.com, out of 231
countries in the world, 85 of
them have GDPs of less than $8
billion. In other words, if
'Self-Help USA' was a country it
would rank 140th in the world!
Add in diet products and the
ranking would move up to the
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