SHAM: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless

SHAM: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless

SHAM: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless by Steve Salerno
Crown | 2005 | ISBN: 0307238652 | EPUB | 330.77KB


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 neither--in 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 doing--not just to its paying customers, but to all of American society.


Based on the author's extensive reporting--and the inside look at the industry he got while working at a leading "lifestyle" publisher--SHAM 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 worries.


SHAM demonstrates how the self-help movement's core philosophies have infected virtually every aspect of American life--the 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 over--without ever helping them

• The inside story on the most notorious gurus--from 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 morale

• How the Recovery movement has eradicated notions of personal responsibility by labeling just about anything--from drug abuse to "sex addiction" to shoplifting--a 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 our schools

• How self-help rhetoric has pushed people away from proven medical treatments by persuading them that they can cure themselves through sheer application of will


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.