Sunday, August 9, 2015

self help

Since I was a little girl, my dad always bought me books for self-help and motivation. Whether they were little books with quotes in them such as “Everyday Wisdom for Success” by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer or more books with deeper content such as, “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, I always felt I should read them because my Dad wanted me too. My dad is really into being the best he can be, and often he would listen to tapes or CDs in the car of motivational speakers. Throughout the year, I have come to the conclusion that self-help and motivational books and speeches claim to do the impossible. They promise to help improve your relationships, your income, and your overall happiness without therapy or medication, but just by thinking in a different way. But how do they work? According to Lennard J. Davis,  Where traditional psychology and psychotherapy will tend to be written in an impersonal, objective mode, many self-help books 'involve a first-person involvement and often a conversion experience in keeping with the self-help support groups on which they often draw, horizontal peer-support and validation is thus offered the reader, as well as advice "from above". Whether self-help books are a true science or a phenomenon, they have become extremely popular in the past couple of decades, and obviously my dad was caught onto the fade.
            The book that stood out most that I read was called “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. The entire book focuses on a “natural” law known as the Law of Attraction. The Law of Attraction says that the universe will match your frequency of thoughts. The author claims that as we think and feel, a corresponding frequency is sent out into the universe that attracts back to us events and circumstances on that same frequency. For instance, if you constantly think about getting a job promotion, eventually it will come to you. On the negative side, if you keep thinking that you will be fired, you are putting that negative energy in that air and you might get fired. But the book has such strong claims—stating that biblical figures used the secret by following the bible quote of, “Ask, Believe, and Receive”, and also that “The Secret” is so strong that is can cure cancer by just thinking it. With the major popularity of the book came extreme criticisms. In 2010, The New York Times states: "'The Power' and 'The Secret' are larded with references to magnets, energy and quantum mechanics. This last is a dead giveaway: whenever you hear someone appeal to impenetrable physics to explain the workings of the mind, run away - we already have disciplines called 'psychology' and 'neuroscience' to deal with those questions. Byrne’s onslaught of pseudoscientific jargon serves mostly to establish and illusion of knowledge,' as social scientists call our tendency to believe we understand something much better than we really do". Critics were upset with the false hope it gave viewers. Whether or not “The Secret” is an actual part of our universe or just another victim of pseudoscience, the books was a very interesting read and highly recommend.
Trailer to the movie THE SECRET here:

            From all the self help books I have read and the “magical powers” that they claim, I have learned that there is only good to come from thinking positively and putting good energy into the universe. Whether a skeptic or a believer, it is always worth a shot to try J 

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