Seven self-help books guaranteed to improve your loved ones
Well, it’s holiday gift-giving season again, and nothing says love, care, thoughtfulness and last-minute Amazon panic shopping better than giving your friends and family the latest self-help books. The ones you think they need.
I’m hoping for a few under the tree myself. To help my gifters, I asked a therapist friend (actually, she’s just my therapist and asked me to stop saying we’re friends) about the best self-help books for me.
She mentioned “The Narcissist’s Guide to Self-Reflection,” “More Ways to Blame Your Perfect Childhood,” and “I Need To Ask You To Leave My Office and Not Come Back.”
Problem is, most self-help books are written by people with way more problems than I’ll ever have.
The authors clearly are just working things out with their books and monetizing their personal issues on my dime.
Joanne Limberg, author of top seller, “The Woman Who Thought Too Much,” obviously from the title thinks too much.
Also, many groundbreaking self-help books focus on how previous self-help books are completely wrong. This is common in the therapeutic arts and sciences.
Take Freud, please. For years he was brilliant. Today eminent shrinks agree Freud was catastrophically, even dangerously wrong, and his theories are clinically damaging to patients, psychotherapy and society, but nonetheless still clinically valid and helpful in a therapeutic setting.
On a separate note, Millennials think a “Freudian slip” is lingerie he secretly wore under his heavy wool suit, but that’s a different issue worth looking into later.
Suffice to say, I’m skeptical about self-help books.
But seven new titles came to me in a disturbing dream that needs analyzing:
1. “Help Yourself: Finding Fulfillment Through Kleptomania”
Is your life dull and emotionally flat? Do you lack any reason to get out of bed? Try stealing. It’s both a thrill and a proven effective cry for help.
If arrest by store cops isn’t your thing, then filch items from friends when you visit them.
They’ll never notice that missing fork or five fewer Xanax in the bottle in their medicine cabinets.
2. “Change Your Life, Change Your Wife”
This is not about dumping the current spouse and getting a new one, my fellow male blockheads. It’s about harnessing pop psychology to improve the one you have.
In short, make your problems her fault, giving her a lot of work to do. For example, when she points out your Borderline Personality Disorder, remind her that she’s projecting. Again.
3. “Lean Out: Seven Habits Of Ineffective People”
Do you want to do what it takes to be highly effective? Me neither. It only raises expectations that over time will stress, exhaust and make you adopt bad habits of dysfunctional people, like skipping work meetings or showing up tipsy from lunch and pretending to not be there. This book will help you fail sooner.
4. “Make Your Bed 15 Times”
This is Admiral William McRaven’s sequel to his best-selling, “Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… and Maybe the World,” in which he acknowledges and embraces his obsessive-compulsive disorder.
As a former Navy man myself, but definitely not OCD, I know the sheets on your bunk need to be drawn and tucked so tightly you could bounce a quarter exactly 19 times in 31 seconds.
(Incidentally, I had no idea that 9/11, in addition to being Patriot Day, observed as the National Day of Service and Remembrance for the 2001 terrorist attacks, apparently has also been National Make Your Bed Day. There is no logical connection I know of or wish to make.)
5. “Oprah Loves Me — Why Can’t You?”
For those seeking guidance from a higher power, God, Allah, Vishnu, etc. are great, and Jesus Christ is still a Broadway superstar, but Oprah Winfrey has much better ideas for reading, cooking, decorating, fashion, faith, friendship and virtually every aspect of life. Whatever it is, She is the One True Way.
This book compiles years of Oprah’s Favorite Things, from 2002’s velour sweat suit to this year’s “Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations,” by Oprah Winfrey.
6. “Tony Robbins’ Jawline”
Mandibular prognathism — a pronounced jutting of the lower face often caused by hereditary factors and/or excessive verbosity — can lead to clinically pathological success from telling people how to succeed.
In this book, noted failures with soft chins explain how self-confidence is delusional, achievement is overrated, and even how wild success can be transformed into humiliating disaster. Forward by Harvey Weinstein.
7. “And To Think I Saw It In The DSM-5”
Psych 101 says the first step toward mental health is accepting you have a problem.
Believe me, whatever’s going on with you, it’s in the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
You’ll self-diagnose issues you never dreamed you had, like Obsessive Searching for Issues You Never Dreamed You Had (see Chapter 18).
Whatever you find, it’s nice to know you’re not alone, and you’re not just being difficult, neurotic, moody, faking it, seeking insatiable need for attention or even just being self-indulgent, which — yay! — is a diagnosed syndrome.
The DSM-5 has been unfairly, viciously mocked for including caffeine withdrawal, snoring, and Virtually Everything Everyone Has Ever Felt or Experienced (another new syndrome).
The ridicule may be classic victim-blaming, but as a result, there may be no DSM-6. Too bad, because we’ve learned about so many new conditions since the DSM-5 was published in 2013.
The newest include Ich Zeige Gerne Meinen Penis-Syndrome, commonly known as Weiner-Weinstein, in which the afflicted — almost exclusively men — expose themselves to women and subsequent ridicule and ruin.
We also have Khillari Namnogo Khuzhe Disorder — identified by Russian psychologists —to explain the unshakable delusion that no matter how erratically and inappropriately a patient’s dangerously unstable and narcissistic national authority figure behaves, Hillary Clinton is much, much worse.
Several new chronic denial syndromes also have emerged. These include Mueller Special Counsel Denial, Thoughts and Prayers Denial, White Privilege Denial, and GOP Tax Reform Will Grow the Economy.
If these seven new self-help books don’t help your family and friends, then they don’t want to be helped.
But as everyone knows, denial is filled with deadly insects, asps and crocodiles, angry hippos, treacherous rapids and large rocks, and many ancient Egyptian artifacts.
If your people truly love and care about you, then they’ll get over their good goddamn selves at least for one freaking minute, it’s the holidays for chrissake, accept your selfless offer to help, and weep with gratitude after unwrapping your gift.
What better way to wish everyone, Happy New You!
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer