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zensky's avatar

Have you ever had a problem where you sought help or guidance from a self-help book, and were pleasantly surprised by the results?

Asked by zensky (13357points) October 15th, 2011

Obviously we are going into private and personal territory – but whatever background you can give would be appreciated.

What was the problem – and what was the book?

If you would like to contribute a story and a title of a book that did nothing for you – that’s good, too.

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18 Answers

perspicacious's avatar

Yes. I have a big book of home remedies which I’ve used many many times.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I read this thread almost 4 months ago, downloaded the book to my Nook, smoked my last butt while I read it, then quit.

marinelife's avatar

I have been helped in my marriage with Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix.

I have been helped with my self esteem with Self Parenting by Dr. John K Pollard.

I have been helped in learning communication techniques to use with my mother with Toxic Parents by Dr. Susan Forward.

I have been helped with issues of childhood sexual abuse by The Courage to Heal by Elle Bass and Laura Davis.

tranquilsea's avatar

I was having really troubling problems with my youngest son and my psychiatrist recommended, Don’t Shoot The Dog which was troubling for obvious reasons. BUT that book ended up being enormously helpful. I call it my “how to start a cult and succeed book”.

zensky's avatar

@marinelife Love the Hendrix.

Londongirl's avatar

I used to read a lot of selfhelp books in the past, still do sometimes. It cannot resolve all problems, but at least you may learn some new tips and things from them. I wouldn’t just follow all the instructions there though.

wundayatta's avatar

I read parts of various books about bipolar disorder. Mostly my wife read them to me since I was in no condition to read a book (no attention span to speak of). The one that helped me most was the one actually written by someone with bipolar and it wasn’t written as a self-help book.

Actually, I hate self-help books. They bore me to tears. I think I may have finished “What Color is Your Parachute,” and a couple of others, but that was 30 years ago. These days, I might read a few chapters, but then the book sits uselessly and fruitlessly on my bedside table until I’m finally willing to admit I won’t finish it. This is difficult for me because I hate spending money on a book and not reading it. It’s like admitting some kind of ignominious defeat.

Anyway, other than WCIYP, which really was helpful, I can’t remember a useful self-help book. Most of the psychological ones seem to be written for kindergarteners. They are both vapid and insipid. Not to mention lipid and one other id which is too unkind to print.

I prefer my advice from people who actually live with the problem. Especially if they have overcome the problem. As far as I’m concerned, people who can’t write novels turn to self-help books.

thesparrow's avatar

I need a book, sometimes, entitled ‘How to Deal With Old-School Immigrant Parents’

linguaphile's avatar

Many times. Lately, I’ve read a lot of self help books, ha! Twice, I’ve found my best self help books from the bargain bins for less than $4. Like I’ve said elsewhere, I’m going through a divorce and the book that really helped validate my view of my situation was Drama Kings It was the perfect book for the moment. Another really good book was Too Nice for Your Own Good.

The one that was the most upsetting and mind-messing was Think Like a Man, Act Like a Lady The book put all the responsibility of relationship maintenance and health on the woman and cast men/women in old-fashioned roles. Steve Harvey wrote it in such a convincing way that it made me question and blame myself for so many relationship goofs. Fortunately, I was able to step back and say, “Hey… don’t put it all on the girls.” I’d love to hear what others think of that book.

I never deface books, but one that I ripped up and threw away was given to me by a friend, called The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands I despise anything by “Dr.” Laura Schlessinger. read the summary!! shudder!!!

thesparrow's avatar


I caught my good friend reading Think Like a Man, Act Like a Lady. The book’s title already implies that we must think like men but act like ladies (which makes us look, if you think about it, like simple bodies on brains). The book ALSO implies (and I hate this about Cosmo too) that we simply cannot just be ourselves and act and move within relationships in ways that WE want.

I agree. The book is so old-fashioned.

The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands… that sounds like the husband is a pet. To be honest I’d be a little offended if I was a man and I saw my wife reading this.

these sorts of books are often dangerous because they generalize and put all men in the same category (i.e. unemotional, poor or lazy around the house and kitchen, focused heavily on career). It isn’t good to suppose that your own loved one wants the same things out of a relationship because ‘all men want this’ or ‘all men secretly want that.’ It’s not true. There are no secrets. These are stupid generalizations and books like these are more harmful to women than they are to anyone else. They can also put rifts between people because you see phrases like ‘well, all men really want this’ and you start to get a skewed outlook on men.

thesparrow's avatar

There’s one conversation which somewhat makes sense though.. the stay at home mom who won’t cook for her family. I mean, if you’re staying at home, you might as well cook. My mom’s worked AND cooked her entire life, and enjoys doing both. However, Shlessinger is pretty traditional. All women probably go through the stay at home mom phase, even if it’s just for a few months or a year. But I feel that Shlessinger is aiming her book at women who JUST do the stay at home mom (and wife) thing.

Lol.. my bf and I have this conversation sometimes. I should mention that he loves to cook. He doesn’t like the idea of just sitting around while a wife does everything, just like I Don’t like the idea of sitting around and a husband doing everything (which happens just as often.. I.e. not having any goals or ambitions past being a stay at home wife for the rest of your life).

linguaphile's avatar

@thesparrow I agree—if someone’s a stay at home person (male or female) they should take on more of the housework than the working spouse. I think of that in terms of fairness, not in terms of duties assigned to our genetic roles and I do have respect for stay-at-home people. It’s not easy maintaining a home and the best of the people who stay at home are the ones who go far beyond just cleaning and cooking.

Schlessinger is different—the gist of all her books focuses on how the responsibility of marriage maintenance fall on the wife. Reading her books is like reading a manual for how to blame your female self for everything. UGH.

Another great self-help book is the StrengthFinders series.

thesparrow's avatar

@linguaphile I have a friend who is in a bad relationship and she ALWAYS blamed herself for everything. But she just has a weak personality and she couldn’t remain solid and intact as a person during the course of the relationship. How are these kinds of books supposed to help women? Since we are typically the ones to suffer the most?

Not only that but everything falls on the woman—child bearing, how the home is kept, organizing social events and family gatherings. And now.. TADA.. providing income as well.

linguaphile's avatar

@thesparrow I agree with you completely—those types of books are just terrible. We need more books like “Too Nice for Your Own Good.” That one was an eyeopener for me!

thesparrow's avatar

Omg.. or ‘Why Men Love Bitches.’ :D

thesparrow's avatar

It’s true. Men do love bitches. Just look at how wonderful my boyfriend is to me! And I am totally not a doormat (if you can judge from some of the posts I’ve been putting up, including this one). Why don’t women finally learn that a man will only respect you IF you respect yourself? And there are a whole SLEW of other dumb stereotypes, such as the following (that ironically I read in a self-help book for women about relationships):

Men want to be respected. Women want to be loved.

Why don’t we include respected AND loved for BOTH of them?

wundayatta's avatar

Respect?!? Respect is for pansies! Men want concubines! Don’t let no one tell you no different!~

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