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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Do self-help books work?

By Allen Pierleoni




Experts opine on a $13 billion industry

JewishWorldReview.com | (SHNS) Losing weight, alleviating depression, escaping anxiety, eliminating procrastination, taking charge of your life, finding happiness, finding and keeping love, developing self-esteem, working through grief, getting past a divorce, tapping in to your potential.

These are all big-ticket life items that could easily require months, if not years, of professional guidance to achieve. More convenient and affordable -- and certainly more popular -- are self-help books. Their ultimate message is clear: If despair is the lock, hope is the key.

The thousands of these titles on the market and the millions of copies of them sold each year are testimony to our collective desire to improve ourselves -- or at least read about it. And with New Year's resolutions still echoing in our ears, it seems there's a plan devised by somebody, somewhere, for fixing almost anything that's broken in us.

Do they work?

"Many (self-help books) can be beneficial, " said Mark Kamena, president of the California Psychological Association. "They are a way for people to receive mental-health services without actually going to a therapist."



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As a genre, self-help books sell in such huge numbers that The New York Times includes them in its Sunday Book Review best-seller lists under "Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous."

Self-help titles glut the market, but sales figures are hard to come by because publishers won't share the data. Still, informed guesstimates value the self-help-book arena at more than $1 billion a year.

That's part of the overall $13 billion self-help industry, which includes seminars, retreats, CDs, infomercials, counseling by "life coaches," "holistic" centers and companies like the business-oriented Dale Carnegie Training franchises.

Self-help has even crossed over into the realm of fiction, at least in the case of the recently released big-buzz novel "Love Is a Canoe" by Ben Schrank. In it, the fictitious author of a classic self-help book titled "Marriage Is a Canoe" questions his own advice when he must put it into practice for himself.

"Self-help is a very reliable moneymaking category and a huge market," said Ron Shoop, Random House's district sales manager for Northern California. "Not everybody reads fiction, but everyone is concerned with overcoming their problems and limitations."

Authors of self-help books include licensed medical professionals and clergy who espouse 21st-century versions of spirituality, as well as self-actualization masterminds and inspired gurus promising to raise our consciousness to other planes. But essentially anyone with advice to give can get into the act.

One recent self-help title that went to the top of the charts is "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by former Wall Street lawyer Susan Cain ("I always wanted to be a psychologist," she said).

"Quiet" explores the dynamics between introversion and extroversion. It was a runaway best seller that made "best books of 2012" lists around the country. Cain's presentation on the TED Talks video site has been viewed more than 3.5 million times.

"My book has real takeaways that people can use," Cain said. "It's a gigantic permission slip that entitles introverted people to be who they are for the first time in their lives. Every day I get emails from them telling me the book has changed their (approaches to) their jobs, leisure time and social (interactions)."

As one of the nonfiction-reviews editors for Publishers Weekly magazine, Samuel Slaton looks at hundreds of self-help titles each month. He said the economic downturn has been a boon for self-help.

"There are a lot of books geared toward how to overcome daily anxiety," he said. "The recession has created a market for them. A lot of them offer a combination of inspirational anecdotes and practical things people can do."

Slaton mentioned one upcoming title with that template, "The End of Worry" by self-help veterans Will van der Hart, an Anglican vicar, and psychiatrist Rob Waller.

"They're coming at the problem of worry and anxiety from two perspectives," Slaton said, "so there's something there for religious types and skeptics alike."

As for the overall effectiveness of self-help books, Slaton noted, "Maybe just by honoring the impulse to be 'better,' people see a positive effect."

But that's not the whole story, according to Micki McGee, a cultural critic and Fordham University sociology professor who wrote the 2007 book "Self Help, Inc."

"We look to self-help books for answers, but the literature only serves as a kind of balm," she said. "They remain an incredibly successful marketplace product because they claim they're going to solve the problems of your life, but your life is lived in a context where the problems are going to be ever-changing and constant. They work enough to make you read the next one, but if they really worked, people would fix themselves and the market would disappear. That's not happening."

Some self-help books do provide inspiration and hope, she allowed, and "a chance of making people at least feel better -- even if the actual lived conditions of their lives are not substantially improved. But when people are hopeful, they don't resort to desperate measures."

Online journalist and social critic Steve Salerno lays out a much darker view of the self-help-book industry in 2006's "Sham: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless."

"We're addicted to these books because we all think we have the power to be something different Tuesday morning from what we went to bed as Monday night," he said.

"The self-help movement has become a self-perpetuating business model that is so enormously profitable it attracts get-rich-quick types who want a piece of the pie," he added.

Too many self-help-book authors lack credentials, he contends, "doing the equivalent of practicing psychology without a license, selling regimens that have never been tested or proven, with no reliable way of tracking who benefits other than the authors."

Sandra Dolby, who read 300 self-help titles in order to write 2008's "Self-Help Books: Why Americans Keep Reading Them," has a slightly softer view.

"I like the pattern that most (self-help books) follow, which is to tell a story and then say, 'Here's what this story suggests you should do,' " said Dolby, a retired professor of folklore at Indiana University. "Reading them is like going to a trusted friend to ask for advice, and listening to them tell you what they think you should do and why it would be a good thing. Most people like the idea of self-education and discovery, which is encouraging."

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