Self-help Books I Wouldn’t Wish on my Worst Enemies

March 5th, 2010

A self-help or personal development book should be as advertised: a way to actually help yourself or develop in some area.

But some books present ideas that can actually cause you to regress instead of progress.  Or they are so insulting to one’s intelligence that they take you for a fool.  In one post, I tried to show how you can know that a self-help book is BS.  If you don’t see a book listed here, I advise you to go to that post and see if the book you are reading fits the description.

I can’t possibly read all the bad books out there, but here is my list of those books you’re better off not reading.

I’ll update this page regularly as I come into contact with the worst of the worst.  I recommend you subscribe to my feed or get updates by e-mail (located on the sidebar) to stay up to date.

The Secret

This one is tops.  The Secret is the WORST THING to ever happen to personal development.  The fact that this book is so popular is really no surprise to me.  Everyone wants to believe that there’s some magic pill that’ll absolve them of all responsibility to take action and bring them happiness.  And The Secret delivers. It delivers a bunch of crap.  That whole Law of Attraction stuff is largely BS.  But The Secret takes it further than ever.  But let’s say I actually believe that the Secret is true.  That means:

The Secret on Health: It’s not germs that kill you; it’s your negative thoughts.

The Secret on Wealth: You’re poor; because you’re too negative.

The Secret on happiness: Your negative thoughts are to blame for your unhappiness.

So, a kid born in Darfur is wrecked by disease, starvation, and brutality because of his negative thoughts?  According to The Secret—YES.

What kind of “guiding principle” is that?

Some people tell me I don’t “get” The Secret.  Or they say I don’t know the “true” Secret (of course, they’ll let me in on that true secret for a large sum).

Look: I watched the video and I’m just taking what they say at face value.  The Secret is the  logical conclusion of New Thought teachings which form the basis of a lot of self-help.  It completely empowers the individual with having control over the universe.  Heck, you’re thoughts can make things come true, right?  Sorry!  Lots of things are just out of your control.  That’s life.  Deal with it.  It doesn’t sound as “positive” as The Secret, but life isn’t always positive.  And to blame the bad things that happen to you on “negative thoughts” is reprehensible.

The fact that people think this is guiding philosophy astounds me.  One thing that really gets me is how “materialistic’ The Secret is.  As I the universe really cares about how much money you have…the oceans will be gone in about 1 billion years and the sun’s going to expand in 5 billion years and leave this little planet lifeless…I’d say your dream car is pretty very low on the universe’s list of things to cares about.

At some point, I will do a long review of The Secret to let you know what I really think of it.

Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins

I’ve now had the displeasure of reading one book by Tony Robbins.  I love advertisements.  I just don’t like advertisements disguised as personal development.  This book was 512 pages of mostly fluff.

See my full review to see what I really think of this book.

Who Moved my Cheese?

This has to be one of the dumbest books I’ve ever read.  I have no problem with parables.  I have no problem with a short book.  What I do have a problem is reading an entire book that basically says “embrace change.” See my full review here to see what I really think of Who Moved my Cheese?”.

Anything written by Dr. Phil

Dr. Phil?  I think he’s the worst of the “it’s all your own fault” gurus.  His “straight talk” is nothing but a way of giving simplistic answers to complex problems and then blaming people because they just can’t figure it out.  And when they don’t just “get it”, Dr, Phil is there to tell them how dumb they are and accuse them of not taking responsibility.

People love simple answers and I’m sure Dr. Phil was a refreshing change of pace from the “secrety” stuff out there (yes, Secret fans, that so-called secret’s been around awhile now with guys teaching it for years).  But all Dr. Phil offers is a way for you to beat yourself up over everything.

But there is one story I heard about Dr. Phil that I did like.

You see, when Oprah was sued by the cattle ranchers over her beef comments, she hired Dr. Phil to help her understand the jury.  That’s what Dr. Phil did.  He was a jury consultant—not a therapist (makes sense now, doesn’t it?).

Anyway, he goes to Oprah’s office and her secretary tells him Oprah’s too busy and he’ll have to wait.  In response, Dr. Phil gets up and is about to leave.  The secretary tells him to wait.  He says he won’t wait because ,”it ain’t my ass being sued.”

Oprah let him in right away.

Hell ya, Dr, Phil!  That’s a lesson we all need in self-value, even if I don’t value Dr. Phil as much as he values himself.

However, hs books are still terrible.

And speaking of Oprah…

Any self-help book recommended by Orpah

Let’s get this straight: Oprah LOVED The secret.  She raved on and on about it.  To her credit though, she did backtrack a bit when someone ACTUALLY followed The Secret and refused chemotherapy for her cancer and decided to use The Secret instead.

So, to recap:

1. Oprah she recommends a book that’s full of crap.

2. a person follows the advice in said crap book

3. Oprah gets freaked out because the advice is kooky.

4. Oprah still loves The Secret but thinks seeing a doctor is a good idea.

Did she even read The Secret?  Or watch the infomercial–I mean movie? How can you trust anything she says?

You’d think that after the whole James Fey thing that she’d have no credibility whatsoever!

For years, she’s had some real wackadoos on her show and no one ever seemed to question it. The fact that she lets so some of those alternative health people on her show should cause alarm (see Jenny “my son may not have autism after all even though I blamed the MMR vaccine for his maybe-not autism” McCarthy).

Newsweek finally had the guts to call her on it last year.  But why did it take 20 years or so for them to do it?


Think I’m wrong?  You love Dr. Phil?  Are you Dr. Phil? Let me know.  Or if you have a book that you think belongs on this list, I’ll try to have a look at it and review it myself.


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