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Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Last Self Book You'll Ever Need: Introduction

(to the reader, stay tuned all this month, and maybe into the next for future chapters in this ground breaking work)

The Last Self Help Guide you’ll ever need.

By Dr. Mezmer

as mumbled to A. J. Marr

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 A Self Help Breakdown

Chapter 2 A Shocking Experiment

Chapter 3 Contingency Contract

Chapter 4 Cinderella and her effects

Chapter 5 Basic Instincts

Chapter 6 Habit Forming

Chapter 7 Putting it all together

Chapter 8 Self Help in a New Age

Mis-Annotated Bibliography

Real Actual References


Today, we are fatter, stupider, more anxious, miserable and dissatisfied than ever before, and folks are more than ever in need a straight forward shrink-wrapped (pun intended) answer NOW. That’s why we need self help books, but that’s not why self help succeeds. Actually, in spite of a myriad books, tapes, and courses helping you find your inner self, courage, or orgasm, nothing quite works, which is why we need self help. Yet, although up to now it has failed, the self help industry certainly has succeeded on one area, namely selling more self help books.

This is one of them.

Ironically, if you read this little book or more preferably, bought it, the industry has won yet again. But if this just happens to be the last one you’ll ever read, then I will not become Dr. Phil’s friend any time soon. In any self help book you need an angle, like the ‘7 Habits’, ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’, or revealing some one liner ‘Secret’ known by the ancients but conspiratorially kept under wraps until of course now. So here’s my angle, giving you the final word on the subject, or something like that.

So why haven’t we seen the final word for self help? In spite of the success of another final word book such as Rhonda Byrnes’ ‘The Secret’, conspiracy is not quite the word for it. I would prefer gravity, but of the psychological kind. For all of us, experts included, gravity points us not towards the truth, but to earning our next meal. Indeed, if you can’t earn a living, you can’t be an expert, although Socrates would demur. So we have a lot of sophistry, or more politely put, marketing.

In its most extreme (and successful) form, marketing means making silk purses out of sows ears, or creating something out of nothing, sort of like the Emperor’s new clothes. With your nothing creation suitably priced of course, that translates into a 100% margin, happy (albeit deluded) customers, and a honorable mention in the Wall Street Journal. Like bottled water, focusing on your belly button, or psychotherapy, nothing products are quite lucrative. Most of them involve taking taking simple and real solutions, and repackaging them so that you can represent them anew, and for a fee. So the simple and obvious solutions to living a long and happy life, namely drinking lots of water, eating fruits and vegetables, exercising, resting, and wanting only simple things is not marketable, but bottled water, diet plans, personal trainers, and meditation is. Often its just as simple as changing the label, or putting old wine (or tap water for that matter) into new bottles.

Well here’s my ‘secret’. When it comes to human motivation, it ain’t all that complex. And the cures aren’t that complex either, which is why I am aiming for the ‘why didn’t I think of that’ response when you realize that you the reader knew this stuff all along. The many labels affixed to motivation are complex of course, but that’s marketing, not science. And psychology today is for the most part a marketing machine. After all, there are zillions or psychotherapists and tenured professors that need to eat. This is an anti-marketing book, therefore it is by definition disrespectful for labels, fancy packaging, and general BS. It’s all common sense really, but you can’t earn a living for plain speaking. Thus I am forced to be either a (god forbid) marketer, or else emphasize the irony of it all. A spoon full of sugar to make the common sense go down I’d say.

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