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  • Community

    Self Help industry - the origins

    The origins of the Self Help industry go back a very long way and these days it's packaged and commercialised in a very big way. It's worth bearing in mind that the property gurus are into it (and I guess you could say they're part of it)
    BBC Radio 4 has just started a series called, Heal Thyself: A History of Self-Help. You can get it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04dgrmd
    or on the BBC i-player. If you download the BBC i-player onto your smart phone then in true self help style you can listen whilst driving, jogging or whatever.
    Here's the blurb from the website:

    Robin Ince explores our fascination with the self-help shelf. From Socrates to Sam Smiles, Marcus Aurelius to Men are from Mars, can this $13 billion industry really make us all richer, happier and more productive? And what is it about the 21st century that has made it bigger than ever before?

    Episode 1/3
    From the earliest recorded times, philosophers and writers have offered living advice to their readers. Much of ancient Stoic thinking reads a lot like a modern set of rules for a better life.

    A lot of the more famous Stoics we know of were writing at the same time as the very early Christians, and there are some parallels.

    What Christianity added into the mix was the idea of the personal narrative, the evangelical moment of conversion. The style of these short biographies became a mainstay of much modern self-help. I was unhappy, now I am am content. I was poor, now I am a rich businessman. You can be too.

    Subsequently, this mode of writing and publishing spread over into other lifestyle areas such as food and well-being, paralleled by the continued use of the classical consolatio diatribe. Thus further setting the genre into the western European consciousness, Elizabeth I personally wrote an English translation of Boethius' Consolations in Philosophy.
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