Self-help is emotional DIY and the self-help section in bookshops is the equivalent of B&Q. In the old days, personal growth used to mean a wart. Now it means something far more unpleasant. Self-help is a bit of a misnomer because it generally requires the help of a guru in book form. People who buy self help books are always nice people. You won't find total bastards picking up a copy of Unleash the Pleasant Person Within.
Self-help books vary in quality. If you find yourself drilling a hole in your head to let the demons out, it’s probably best to take that one back to the library. It’s a shame that there isn’t a monthly self-help magazine which you could collect and keep in a special binder until you’d got a complete personality.
Often people with the same kind of problem like to join self-help groups. Be wary if your group offers life membership as clearing up your problem fast is unlikely to be a priority. Self-help is addictive and you can spend so much time with yourself up on blocks that you don’t actually get out any more.
Some people enjoy self-help so much, they get someone to do it for them. These people are called therapists and are paid to find everything you say interesting. The difference between a therapist and a friend is that the friend won’t ask you to lie down before talking. If they do, they might be about to stretch the limits of friendship.
Most self-help books work by identifying a failing you have and then curing it for you. There could be a book called Count your Blessings And Pull Yourself Together but it would be very thin and would have to be padded out with a 10 Step Counting/Pulling Programme.
All self help books promise a significantly nicer and more powerful you underneath the normal pathetic you. Be warned though, if you manage to release the fearless smiling extrovert within, it’s very difficult to put it back. Also remember that most self-help books are written by Americans and you might inadvertently release your inner American.
British self help books tend to fall at the first hurdle. There would need to be an introductory volume called First Take Yourself Seriously. Many people prefer liquid self improvement where the effect is more immediate and you don't have to listen to accompanying CDs. Finally, don't confuse self-help with helping yourself. One will lead to inner peace the other will lead to a conviction for shop lifting.