There’s an article on today’s CNN website called “Good, bad and ugly self-help: How can you tell?” by By Jason Hanna, (CNN Living, December 7, 2009 1:18 p.m. EST). It talks about the unregulated multi-billion dollar self-help industry and suggests that there are a few tell-tale signs of things to look for in identifying the bad and the ugly. “Self-help is a multibillion-dollar-a-year unregulated industry in the United States, according to John C. Norcross, professor of psychology at the University of Scranton.” Norcross goes on to say that

… a lack of scientific evidence isn’t the only thing to look out for. Other characteristics that should make consumers wary, he says:

  • Authors or speakers who don’t have formal training in the featured topic. “They should look for someone with rigorous training at an accredited university and who has spent years investigating and conducting these treatments,” Norcross said.
  • Programs that don’t screen consumers for problems. For example, Norcross says, certain programs might be harmful for a person with bipolar disorder.
  • People who reject conventional knowledge and instead imply a revolutionary secret. “It’s marketing, essentially,” Norcross said.
  • People who propose solutions for all problems instead of particular problems.

While I don’t necessarily agree with the list in its entirety (I strongly disagree that spending years at an accredited university automatically assumes proper authority), I do think he makes some valid points. When considering a program, yes, talk to someone who has taken the course at least six months ago. But do more than ask for a reference. Ask them how that course has impacted their lives.

And, yes, anyone touting “a revolutionary secret” that will resolve all your problems and make you rich and let you “find your bliss” is bullshitting you.

You should really familiarize yourself with Robert Cialdini’s persuasion principles. Once you become aware of that sales formula, you’ll start seeing the pitches for what they are: marketing.

(Oh, and by the way, “marketing” is not a bad word. It is what it is, a tool. Being aware of this tool’s use is what will help guide you to making decisions in your best interest.)

Tags: ,

This entry was posted on Monday, December 7th, 2009 at 10:00 pm and is filed under On Marketing, On Wealth Seminars. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 comments so far


Lessons from James Ray…

“The Self-Help Movement has become the Self-Destruct Movement!”

There was a time when the answers to life’s challenges were simple. We learned to make our own decisions based on common sense, family values and religion, and we learned good judgment from life experience and through the sound advice of family and friends.

Now, however, Self-Help gurus have brainwashed us into believing that they know what is best for us, our marriages and our families. These self-proclaimed experts make millions while offering up their generic advice without any solid evidence to support their claims.

The common sense once readily available to all of us has been hijacked. Self-Help has evolved into a “quasi-religious” cult following through the systematic commercialization of positive psychology and sound mental health.

The Self-Help Movement has become the Self-Destruct Movement by diminishing or destroying our ability to explore, interpret, assess, create, judge, choose and evolve on our own. We have given up the freedom to live life, and build healthy marriages and families based on our unique history, values and life experience. Instead many (desperately) search outside themselves for someone to tell them how to be happy, what they should value and how they should act.

Being a “happier person” or having a “healthier family,” whatever that means, are often the goals of consumers of Self-Help products. Yet studies continue to show that to be happy and healthy is simple but not necessarily easy. Few of us want to do the hard work necessary to change, so we keep searching for an easier way offered by the latest guru, sometimes with deadly consequences.

The Solution: A Return to our (Common) Senses! The best way out of this learned “self-helplessness” is to go cold turkey. Stop watching ALL Self-Help shows now, and quit reading any more Self-Help books, at least until you have applied what you read in the last one.

Begin, instead, to reclaim your natural, God-given ability to think for yourself. The common sense that was once readily available to all of us is still there free of charge and waiting to be applied to just about any challenge we might face in life… all you have to do is use it.

John Curtis, Ph.D. is the founder of Americans Against Self-Help Fraud –

December 10th, 2009 at 7:16 am

Find out more about John Curtis’s website folks. I have him cross-referenced in the General Resources section, under AASF.

December 10th, 2009 at 8:05 am

Leave a reply

Mail (will not be published)