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Self Help and Improvement

Updated on August 27, 2012

Nobody’s perfect. Reflecting that premise are the numerous self help and improvement guides found everywhere. They focus on subjects geared to advance one economically, intellectually, or emotionally and most have a psychological base. Self-help often utilizes publicly available information or support groups where people with like problems join together.

Support groups became popular because they provide attributes often lacking with singular professional assistance such as friendship,emotional support, personal identity and a sense of belonging. Groups with health conditions may consist of patients and caregivers while other self-help groups can be considered more as peer-to-peer support.

The term "self-help" began appearing in the 1800s, but was meant mostly in a legal context, referring to parties in a dispute having the right to use legal action on their own initiative. But, by the beginning of the 21st century, "the self-improvement industry” was claimed to have an annual worth of over a two billion dollars.

A popular tool for many support groups is the 12-step approach. This method uses a set of guiding principles accepted by group members as having a spiritual foundation and outlines a course of action for recovery from addictions, compulsions, or other problems. Recovery is focused mainly on several areas: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is credited with being the first to use it as a method of recovery from alcoholism.

Where other twelve-step groups have used AA’s steps principles, they are usually altered to emphasize specific aims to those particular fellowships. AA isthe largest twelve-step program, followed by Narcotics Anonymous and Al-Anon. Al-Anon assists family members and friends of people with problems.

The majority however, concentrate on illnesses other than addiction. Only about 20% of twelve-step programs are for addiction. The rest tackle problems ranging from debt to depression.

There are some who believe support group themselves can be addictive because some members attend weekly meetings for years following their success. However there are no studies to confirm this accusation and experts view it as extremely unlikely.


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    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      You've added some insight to my writing. However, I also don't feel support groups are addictive having gone through AA myself. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • zionsphere profile image


      6 years ago from Oregon

      I attend a support group myself for PTSD. I'm not sure that I would agree that support groups are addictive, but it does give people a sense of purpose and belonging. Old time members can help the new ones feel more comfortable sharing their problems by providing them with examples of their own recovery process.

      Self help is a great way to begin any recovery process, particularly if you have no spiritual foundation in your life. Speaking from experience, The spiritual aspect of the 12 step programs can actually boost success rates by giving the members something to rely on above themselves. I believe it is based on the concept that everyone needs help, and an omnipotent force is the best help a person can possibly have. If everyone could help themselves, there wouldn't be any need for "self help."

      Also.. the service aspect of a 12 step program, which is also a spiritual concept, helps a person move into a state of awareness regarding the needs of others. For example, when a person realizes how much they can help the poor in their own neighborhood, it gives them another sense of purpose, and control over their environment. This serves to lesson the need for artificial pleasures like drugs and alchohol, and satisfies the need for lasting pleasure, which also helps with things like depression and PTSD.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this :)


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