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Self-Help Vs Therapy

Updated on July 17, 2019
Anthonybadiy profile image

Abderrahim, Moroccan author, Freelancer writer and psychology Bookworm



Stay positive, and positive things will happen, meditate and peace will get into your soul, and remember Stay Positive.

2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, shows that 17.3 million people in America suffer from major depression, and The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) reports that 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older are diagnosed with Anxiety. These statistics are huge and it proves why Self-Help and Self-Improvement articles and eBooks are trending, many people write about self-help and many people are reading. But what is the reality of Self-Help from a psychological point of view?

1. Self-Help Nowadays:

Self-Help is not a valid approach, I don't mean it's not useful, but it's more likely to be a motivation not a solution for mental illness, and like motivational videos, the person needs to watch it every morning to keep his or her edge sharp, self-help works the same way, each time anxiety get over oneself, he/she needs a dose of motivation.

Dr. Clayton E. Tucker-Ladd a Clinical Psychologist in his eBook Psychological Self-Help explains the reality of Self-Help and he mentions 13 understanding in Chapter 1 here are some of them:

“Self-help is a relatively new, still-to-be-proven approach, involving a few well-tested methods, but many methods are unproven. Research supporting self-help approaches is accumulating.”

“I prefer to be honest with you about the effectiveness of self-help methods. I'm not going to "talk up" a method or try to "sell" you a product; I'm trying to get you to learn and to think for yourself. Also, I don't want to deceive you.”

“Any therapist or self-help method may do harm. Reading and self-help seem to rarely do damage. Note: pessimism and the fear of trying to help yourself, resulting in your doing nothing, cause much more harm than any self-help method.”

Stay positive, won't harm you but that's not enough to get over the struggle, as an obsessed with psychology I always remember a quote by Sigmund Freud “From error to error one discovers the entire truth.” While keeping the positive spirit.

2. How Self-Help can be harmful:

We all have weaknesses and strengths and it differs from person to a person, and most of the self-help articles are talking about the issue superficially and not going deeper in the problem, I've suffered from mental illness from a younger age and Self-Help methods do help as a motivation but never cure, and there are many reasons why Self-Help may be harmful but there are two main negative sides for it.

- Self-help Magnify the struggle:

First of all Self-Help proves and shows that a person has an issue, in the way he/she lives, giving a general solution, Meditation is in every article and eBook about self-help, Listening to music is always recommended, for productivity problems, wake up 5:00 Am as successful millionaires do, these are general things and some are stereotypes, the efficiency is not real, in psychology every person needs a unique consultation and recommendations, and I don’t say don’t meditate and don’t listen to music or wake up late, but I would recommend improvising your way to meditate and your music genre and the time you feel more productive- there exists different types of people Night owls and morning larks, some struggles are not big as self-help pictures and that makes it harder to get over it.

- Self-help empower the EGO:

EGO, according to Sigmund Freud, “the ego is that part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world.” -(Freud, 1923, p. 25). The fact that it's influenced by the external world, means it's get influenced by things we read we hear and experience, and some of the Self-help tips can make the ego believe in unrealistic picture of the world, it makes a person suffer from other disorders as selfishness and megalomania, the person feel more confident that’s right in his ego picture, but the strengths the person think he has are more likely to be weaknesses in real life, someone with anxiety/depression may hang-out with group of people, but having a sense of Egoism results an appropriate behaviors that may lead for more anxiety and depression after the meeting, the one truth someone with anxiety and depression is overthinking everything.

3. What Can Replace Self-Help:

Self-Help is good as far as the reader is not a Self-Help junkie, in other words, addicted to Self-Help articles and eBooks, instead of just reading a person needs to start acting, I know it’s hard to start acting while not knowing how to start, I’ve been writing in Arabic and I published a novel during my mental illness treatment, I was diagnosed officially with schizophrenia in 2017, at that time I was lost not knowing how to deal with people or study or even work knowing my family discovered I have a mental issue, for me schizophrenia was not a problem I knew I had it 6 years before they know, I tried to adapt and not look at it as a problem, I struggled on my own before my therapist diagnosis, family didn’t understand why I’m isolated and socially I was a weirdo, 2017 I wanted to do something with that so I wrote the novel, it took me almost 8 months and published it in 2018, I didn't know how to write a novel or the process to publish it, the first step was just writing, I stayed at home most of the time writing, I was on drugs, didn't realize what's the purpose of writing, at the end I realized it was a therapy, not just a book, the book is published and everything went fare enough, but I didn’t know how to start anything else, Self-Help articles didn’t help me recharge my motivation, only Philosophy and psychology brought that energy to work and study, for this case I would recommend psychology and here is why it may be important and helpful.

4. The Importance of Psychology and Therapy:

- Understanding the mental state from its roots, there are different ways to do that, First "google" keeping eye on references, or consulting a psychologist, the importance of understanding the mental state (depression, anxiety or any other mental illness) helps the person to know where the struggle started from, the main questions to ask is, from when I started feeling this way? What happened before that? How Important that event at this moment? What would change if I got over it? And most important do my inner voice won't change?

- Psychology empowers the need to discover other people personalities, there is that urge growing to go out see people and contact them to make sure of what you read, analyzing other people as mirrors to discover oneself social errors and that reliefs going out watching out oneself actions and behaviors, and that's what is really stressing in meetings.

- Psychology leads to understanding our behaviors and mastering it, to deal with life and social events, when to say “Yes” or “No” because there is no absolute power for saying “Yes” all the time instead of “No” and vice versa.


I would say the difference between Self-Help and Psychology in tow management terms, “efficacy” and “efficiency”, while effectiveness means getting good results based on quantity and quality, and efficiency is getting the same results in a shorter time. Self-Help may be effective but psychology is efficient.

© 2019 Abderrahim BADIY


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