Is contemporary self-help merely a marketing scheme? In the Toronto Star, Murray Whyte discusses one recent example of a blockbuster self-help phenomenon, “The Secret
.” First introduced on “Oprah,” the book and its companion DVD have been bestsellers for more than a year. One reader, quoted in the Toronto Star, defends the book by saying, “[S]ometimes we need to restate the obvious.” This may be another way to sum up the self-help movement: seemingly self-evident advice, insight, and ideas are packaged in a way that draws attention, motivating a reader or listener to take the steps to improve the quality of his or her life.
In counterpoint, a March 2007 Salon article
argues that rather than providing help and support, “The Secret” encourages an adherent to blame herself when things go wrong—even events over which she has no control, such as an illness.
The self-help market in North America is enormous, which is what sparked the Toronto Star’s Whyte to critique it. According to a 2006 PRWeb release, data from Marketdata Enterprises indicated that the “self-improvement market” in the United States was worth $9.6 billion in 2005
, and predicted that it would be $13.9 billion by 2010.