First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.
xii, 224 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm.
"Raised by a child psychologist who was himself the author of numerous self-help books, as an adult Jessica Lamb-Shapiro found herself both repelled and fascinated by the industry: did all of these books, tapes, weekend seminars, groups, posters, t-shirts and trinkets really help anybody? Why do some people swear by the power of positive thinking, while others dismiss it as so many empty promises? Promise Land is an irreverent tour through the vast and strange reaches of the world of self-help. In the name of research, Jessica--a self-admitted nervous wreck at the best of times--attempted to cure herself of phobias, followed The Rules to meet and date men, walked on hot coals, and even attended a self-help seminar for writers of self-help books. But the more she delved into the history and practice of self-help, the more she realized her interest was much more than academic. Forced into a confrontation with the silent grief that had haunted both her and her father since her mother's death when she was a baby, she realized that sometimes thinking you know everything about a subject is a way of hiding from yourself the fact that you know nothing at all"-- Provided by publisher.
Includes bibliographical references (pages 221-224).
Prologue: On missing the obvious -- We need heart-touching, soul-penetrating stories! : the power of inspirational tales -- Apparently, there are rules : control and the defense against loss -- In which I walk on hot coals : the power of positive thinking -- Dr. Choking Game : the cult of expertise -- The Secret is not a secret : vision boards and the Law of Attraction -- A fellowship of nervous freaks : overcoming phobias and fears -- The saddest camp in the world : on grief and grieving -- New frontiers of weirdness : the future of self-help -- Consider the kitten poster : what kind of life is worth living -- Epilogue: In which my father and I break into a cemetery.
9781439100219 (trade paperback)
1439100217 (trade paperback)