Self-help

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Self-help, or self-improvement, is a self-guided improvement[1]—economically, intellectually, or emotionally—often with a substantial psychological basis. There are many different self-help movements and each has its own focus, techniques, associated beliefs, proponents and in some cases, leaders. 'Self-help culture. particularly Twelve-Step culture, has provided some of our most robust new language: recovery, dysfunctional families, and, of course, codependency'[2].

Self-help often utilizes publicly available information or support groups where people in similar situations join together.[1] From early examples in self-driven legal practice[3] and home-spun advice, the connotations of the phrase have spread and often apply particularly to education, business, psychology and psychotherapy, commonly distributed through the popular genre of self-help books. According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology, potential benefits of self-help groups that professionals may not be able to provide include friendship, emotional support, experiential knowledge, identity, meaningful roles, and a sense of belonging.[1]

Groups associated with health conditions may consist of patients and caregivers. As well as featuring long-time members sharing experiences, these health groups can become lobby groups and clearing-houses for educational material. Those who help themselves by learning about health problems can be said to exemplify self-help, while self-help groups can be seen more as peer-to-peer support.

Contents

History

Within classical antiquity, Hesiod's Works and Days 'opens with moral remonstrances, hammered home in every way that Hesiod can think of'[4]. The Stoics offered ethical advice 'on the notion of eudaimonia - of well-being, welfare, flourishing'[5]. The genre of mirror-of-princes writings, which has a long history in Islamic and Western Renaissance literature, represents a secular cognate of Biblical wisdom literature. Proverbs from many periods, collected and uncollected, embody traditional moral and practical advice of diverse cultures.

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