In Virtue/Vice, Dr. Christine B. Whelan blogs about news, books, scientific and psychological research and her general musings about virtue and vice in our everyday lives.
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It’s been nearly a year since three people died and dozens more were injured during a self-help retreat led by the now-infamous James Arthur Ray. At the time, I wrote a piece in The Washington Post and was outspoken about the fact that, although we’d like to write them off as New Age wackos, the folks who stayed in a steamy sweat lodge well past when it was physically safe were just like you and me: Seekers who were smart, educated and interested in pushing themselves to achieve greater things.
In this month’s SELF magazine Shepelavy has a terrific piece about the lessons we can all learn from last year’s deaths. Roxanne and I logged in several hours of talk time over the last few months as she crafted the piece, “When Self-Help Harms,” and she did an excellent job. (Yes, I’m quoted extensively, but I don’t rave about all the pieces that quote me, lemme tell ya!)
Check it out here—and, because it’s always more fun to read glossy magazines than words on a screen, buy the September issue in hard copy.
Self-help doesn’t have to be harmful, but too often gurus lead enthusiastic people astray. I hope this piece helps us all remember that if we think something is powerful enough to help us, we’ve got to acknowledge the fact that it also has the power to harm us. There’s some terrific self-help out there—advice that is based in virtuous living and backed by psychological research. My fervent hope is that this article helps all of us make smarter choices about what advice we seek in our journeys of self-improvement.