Self Help Books: How Can You Tell Which Ones Are Good?

A vodcast from The Psych Files about how to spot a dubious psychology self-help book. Examples include outlandish claims that lack evidence, relying only on testimonials, unfalsifiable statements, oversimplifying (eg. “happiness is a choice”), lack of references & citations, mushy things that are not measurable (eg. the so-called “law of abundance”), blaming the victim, hiding behind quotes from famous people, ordinary advice in flowery language, sales pitches, misrepresenting psychology, and overemphasizing the role of your thoughts as though they’re the whole cause and cure of a problem. These are typical tools of biased writing and good signs that a book is unscientific. “There are some serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia… suggesting that having a more positive outlook is going to cure these kind of illnesses is naïve at best.”

PsychCentral regularly publishes book reviews, by our staff of experts, which can help guide your choices.

Producer: The Psych Files Featuring: Michael A. Britt
Format: Flash Date: 30/07/08
Length: 00:09:25  
Video Link:
Tags:, , , , , , ,



View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 0 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.


From Psych Central's website:
12 Favourite Mental Health Videos of 2012 | Channel N (December 31, 2012)

    Last reviewed: 24 Feb 2012

APA Reference
Kiume, S. (2012). How To Know if a Self-Help Book is Good or Bad. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 31, 2015, from


Channel N

Short Videos

Subscribe to this Blog:


Follow me on Twitter!

Subscribe to this Blog: Feed

Recent Comments
  • David: Thanks for a wonderful article. I’ll be sure to share this info with my clients!
  • Moses Chukwu: Thanks for this video. I enjoy playing with babies, never knew my doings was more than ordinary
  • David Cummins: Great video thanks for sharing. It’s nice to have a lighter side to mental health and psychology!
  • Asger Lauritsenv: I experience anxiety when I was still 18.The build-up, the shortness of breath,the muscle tension....
  • Gina: I am suicide attempt survivor. 6 years ago, I jumped off the sunshine skyway bridge. Fell 197 feet. I was in...

Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code

Users Online: 12240
Join Us Now!