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Have You Ever Been Helped by a Self-Help Book?
I'm still touched by the optimism (if not the occasional outright chicanery) of the self-help and pop psychology movements of the 1970's. Remember Transactional Analysis? Remember when you discovered your inner child needed braces? Did you ever experience the euphoria that accompanied the first chapter of a new book that so clearly identified your basic problem-- and promised to solve it in a few easy chapters? The advice may have been facile or questionable, but it was a way for a bookish young adult lacking in mentors to figure out the mystery of other people.
Self-help books (especially the juicy ones about sex) gave me something I was otherwise lacking-- adult advice, encouragement, and strategies for navigating a confusing world. One (now dated) book in particular helped me through a trying time when I was in my 2i0's. Called Stress and the American Woman it explained how stress physically affects women and outlined the body-mind connection in a way that made complete sense to me. Best of all it was practical and offered an array of techniques including progressive relaxation, self-hypnosis and meditation for calming an overactive sympathetic nervous system. I still use all three. My best coping skills at that age (sadly) all came from a book. It seems to me stress relief techniques and basic cognitive therapy principles should be available to all young adults.
Here's a few titles I could easily bring to mind from that time of life. How many do you recall?
The Peter Pan Syndrome
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (But Were Afraid to Ask)
Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus
How to Be Your Own Best Friend
The Joy of Sex
What Color is Your Parachute
Games People Play
I'm still a sucker for advice. Not that I want to take it, but I'm curious as to what people have to offer, which lead me to the thoroughly charming Life Lessons by a 90 year old, featuring my favorite piece of perspective:
If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s,
we’d grab ours back.
Which basically really does sum it up.
How about you? Where has your favorite source of written life advice come from?
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