Self-Help Books and Self-Help Books

There are ones that work better for most people… and ones that may make symptoms worse. One needs to select carefully, according to a new study involving Sonia Lupien, one of the biggest names in PTSD, stress and autonomic nervous system research.

C. Raymond, M-F Marin, A. Hand,S. Sindi, R-P Juster and S.J. Lupien: Salivary Cortisol Levels and Depressive Symptomatology in Consumers and Nonconsumers of Self-Help Books: A Pilot Study. Neural Plasticity, November 2015

Does reading self-help books increase the stress reactivity and depressive symptomatology of self-help readers or are they more sensitive to stressful situations? It is difficult to determine the cause of this observation. “Further research will help us learn more,” according to Lupien. “Nevertheless, it seems that these books do not produce the desired effects. When we observe that the best predictor of purchasing a self-help book is having bought one in the past year,1 it raises doubts about their effectiveness. Logically, if such books were truly effective, reading just one would be enough to solve our problems," said the researcher at the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal. For this reason, she encourages people to rather consult books that report scientifically proven facts and are written by researchers or clinicians affiliated with recognized universities, health care facilities, or research centres. “Check your sources to avoid being disappointed. A good popular science book doesn’t replace a mental health professional but it can help readers better understand stress and anxiety and encourage them to seek help.

See the entire article from ScienceDaily at

How does one select at beneficial self-help book vs. one that may not be so helpful? In general: Go on and find out about 1) the author of the book, 2) the reader voting and comments, and 3) who published the book.

Many self-help books are written by others who run the gamut from respected authors and magazine journalists to self-appointed health gurus, outright hacks and trend-chasing opportunists.

My experience (based on having digested about 400 psych books thus far) is that the better stuff tends to be (but is not always) written by people with **Ph.D’**s in clinical psychology, Psy.D’s (or more than typically schooled psychotherapists), and MD “psychiatrists” or “psychopharmacologists.”

My experience is also that the best stuff has a large # of level 5 votes on, as well as an overwhelming # of positive comments.

And finally, my experience is that the following publishers tend to be associated with the best books on human behavior: New Harbinger of Oakland, CA; Guildford Press of New York and London; Jason Aaronson of New York; HarperCollins of New York and San Francisco; and W. W. Norton of New York.


I wanted to tell you that I’ve really appreciated your targeted recommendations lately; they’ve been very useful to me.

TY. We’re trying.

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