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Who reads self-help books?: Development and validation of the Self-Help Reading Attitudes Survey

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Abstract

The publication and use of psychological self-help books are ubiquitous in our society. Nevertheless, little research is available concerning the public’s attitudes toward such books and the psychological variables associated with these attitudes. The current investigation involved the development and validation of the Self-Help Reading Attitudes Survey with a sample of 264 male and female college students. The resultant 40-item measure was found to be psychometrically sound, with acceptable reliability and both discriminant and convergent validity. Persons with more favorable attitudes toward reading self-help books held better attitudes about reading in general, were more psychologically minded, had a stronger self-control orientation, and reported greater life satisfaction. Women and psychology majors had more positive self-help reading attitudes than did men and nonpsychology majors. The utility of this new assessment with respect to further research and clinical applications was discussed.

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... Although guided self-help interventions presented in books or via the internet have been extensively studied [2,11,12], unguided self-help books have received very little attention. Some studies suggest that reading problem-focused self-help books can have positive effects in the treatment of some problematics such as marital conflict [13] and general emotional disorders [14], and others suggest that unguided self-help books could be used to prevent the incidence of depression in high risk groups [15]. However, at this point, there is a lot of cynicism about the potentially positive effects of unguided self-help books, with some authors claiming that self-help books are fraudulent [16], and others suggesting that buying self-help books may be part of a "false hope syndrome" [17]. ...
... This later point brings attention to the lack of information that exists on the type of readership of unguided selfhelp books. The few studies that were performed to date showed that consumers of self-help books come from all levels of educational backgrounds, socioeconomic status, and positions, although women tend to consume more selfhelp books than men [13]. Notwithstanding, the literature is inconsistent in describing whether consumers of self-help books differ from nonconsumers in terms of personality [19]. ...
... Notwithstanding, the literature is inconsistent in describing whether consumers of self-help books differ from nonconsumers in terms of personality [19]. One study showed that consumers of self-help books present higher neuroticism than nonconsumers [20], a second study did not find such a difference [4,21], and a third reported that reading self-help books is associated with an increase in selfactualization [13]. ...
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The self-help industry generates billions of dollars yearly in North America. Despite the popularity of this movement, there has been surprisingly little research assessing the characteristics of self-help books consumers, and whether this consumption is associated with physiological and/or psychological markers of stress. The goal of this pilot study was to perform the first psychoneuroendocrine analysis of consumers of self-help books in comparison to nonconsumers. We tested diurnal and reactive salivary cortisol levels, personality, and depressive symptoms in 32 consumers and nonconsumers of self-help books. In an explorative secondary analysis, we also split consumers of self-help books as a function of their preference for problem-focused versus growth-oriented self-help books. The results showed that while consumers of growth-oriented self-help books presented increased cortisol reactivity to a psychosocial stressor compared to other groups, consumers of problem-focused self-help books presented higher depressive symptomatology. The results of this pilot study show that consumers with preference for either problem-focused or growth-oriented self-help books present different physiological and psychological markers of stress when compared to nonconsumers of self-help books. This preliminary study underlines the need for additional research on this issue in order to determine the impact the self-help book industry may have on consumers’ stress.
... The readership profile of the self-help books and the cultural matters were interests of the researchers. For example, Wilson & Cash (2000) stated that having a positive attitude towards reading in general, being more psychologically minded, having a stronger self-control and having greater life satisfaction were the factors predicting a favorable view towards self-help books. In addition, women and psychology majors were reported to be more positive towards bibliotherapy in the same study. ...
... Turkish academic works concerning bibliotherapy can be grouped in two categories; literature reviews and experimental studies. Literature reviews mainly addressed the definitions and therapeutic uses of self-help books for different age groups (Bulut, 2010;Öner, 1987;Öner & Yeşilyaprak, 2006;Öner, 2007;Uçar, 1996). Regarding the experimental studies, Yılmaz (2002) found out a significant positive effect of biblio-counseling in the degree of parent-teen conflicts which ninth grade high school students experienced. ...
... In their study examining how to integrate self-help books into psychotherapy, Campbell and Smith (2003) proposed that without considering several factors like client characteristics (demographic, ethnic and cultural characteristics), goals and professional standards (training, ethics) before assigning a self-help book to a client, it would not be a meaningful intervention. Indeed, studies also indicated that demographic and personal characteristics of the individuals have a gross effect on helping individuals (Wilson & Cash, 2000;Bergsma, 2008). Ignoring the culture in which people live is another concern reported by the studies. ...
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The purpose of this study is to explore the use of self-help books with therapeutic aims; and to propose suggestions by discussing the present situation of self-help books in Turkish cultural context. Taking these aims into account, the existing literature on self-help books is initially reviewed, and a picture of the self-help books in Turkey is drawn regarding the current status of bibliotherapy. Considering Turkey, there firstly exists a confusion in differentiating between self-help books and self-development books. In addition, Turkish self-help books are mainly translations of popular western self-development books lacking the elements of Turkish culture. Thus, original Turkish self-help books are required for personal uses of the readers and professional therapeutic practices. And there is a need for further investigations regarding Turkish context as to how mental health practitioners and clients conceive and make use of self-help books.
... Although guided self-help interventions presented in books or via the internet have been extensively studied [2,11,12], unguided self-help books have received very little attention. Some studies suggest that reading problem-focused self-help books can have positive effects in the treatment of some problematics such as marital conflict [13] and general emotional disorders [14], and others suggest that unguided self-help books could be used to prevent the incidence of depression in high risk groups [15]. However, at this point, there is a lot of cynicism about the potentially positive effects of unguided self-help books, with some authors claiming that self-help books are fraudulent [16], and others suggesting that buying self-help books may be part of a "false hope syndrome" [17]. ...
... This later point brings attention to the lack of information that exists on the type of readership of unguided selfhelp books. The few studies that were performed to date showed that consumers of self-help books come from all levels of educational backgrounds, socioeconomic status, and positions, although women tend to consume more selfhelp books than men [13]. Notwithstanding, the literature is inconsistent in describing whether consumers of self-help books differ from nonconsumers in terms of personality [19]. ...
... Notwithstanding, the literature is inconsistent in describing whether consumers of self-help books differ from nonconsumers in terms of personality [19]. One study showed that consumers of self-help books present higher neuroticism than nonconsumers [20], a second study did not find such a difference [4,21], and a third reported that reading self-help books is associated with an increase in selfactualization [13]. ...
Article
Background : The self-help book industry is one of the most lucrative in North America generating profits of $10 billion annually. The main purpose of self-help books is to increase the sense of worth of the readers as well as to provide them with adequate coping strategies, so they can better negotiate their stress. Despite the popularity of this literature, no study has investigated whether it impacts on people's stress reactivity. Consequently, the goal of this study was to compare consumers and non-consumers of self-help books with regard to their physiological stress response. Methods : Thirty-one healthy men and women aged between 18 and 65 took part in this study. Of this group, 16 reported being consumers of self-help books, whereas the other 15 participants reported not being consumers nor attracted by these books. During their afternoon visit to the laboratory, all participants were exposed to the Trier Social Stress Test, a validated psychosocial stressor. Salivary samples were taken throughout the session in order to quantify their cortisol levels. Participants also filled out different questionnaires assessing self-esteem, depressive symptomatology and personality traits. Results : In terms of stress reactivity, the area under the curve with respect to increase was significantly higher in consumers when compared to non-consumers. The two groups did not differ from each other in terms of depressive symptomatology and self-esteem. The consumer group scored lower on the “extraversion” personality trait compared to the non-consumer group. Conclusions : Healthy consumers of self-help books are more stress reactive when facing a psychosocial stressor than non-consumers of self-help books. Although the current study design does not allow concluding about the efficacy of these books, the results nonetheless suggest that further investigation about the impact of this literature is necessary. Moreover, given the considerable amount of consumers of self-help books and their poor ability to cope with stress, there is clearly a need of increasing public awareness about effective coping strategies.
... Reading, a "basic cultural activity" (Fernández-Blanco, Prieto-Rodríguez and Suarez-Pandiello, 2017), has been analyzed within various theoretical and methodological frameworks like, for example, reading habits as a decision making process Fernández-Blanco et al., 2017); cultural reproduction and the formation of reading habits and preferences (e.g., Fernández-Blanco, García-Díez and Prieto-Rodríguez, 1999;Filimon, 2013;Kraaykamp, 2003;etc.); reading as a leisure pursuit in relation to genres and literary books preferences or gender gap (see Logan and Johnston, 2010;Tepper, 2000;Wilson and Cash, 2000;etc.), reading habits and generational gaps (e.g. ...
... A second variable, gender, is introduced in the analysis as an active covariate, as it is expected to affect books' reading behavior and hence, the latent class membership. Gender differences in spending leisure time, reading in particular, are substantially documented in the literature (e.g., Wilson and Cash, 2000;Filimon, 2013;Fernández-Blanco et al., 2017;etc.). ...
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El trabajo identifica tres perfiles de lectores de libros con metodología de clases latente: activos (leen casi a diario); frecuentes (solo leen 1-2 veces por semana); ocasionales (leen libros alguna vez al mes o trimestre), aportando evidencia sobre los hábitos de lectura de libros de los españoles. Indicadores socioeconómicos y culturales completan el perfil de los lectores. Una mejor comprensión de los hábitos de lectura de libros, de las preferencias literarias, así como de su contribución al bienestar de los lectores, podrían ser de interés para los responsables de políticas culturales y para las editoriales
... Obese individuals seeking professionally led treatment in clinical settings tend to manifest more psychopathology and binge eating than obese individuals not seeking professionally led treatment (Fitzgibbon et al., 1993). On the other hand, data have shown that individuals who prefer to seek self-help treatments have greater skills and interest in self-control than those who do not favor self-help strategies (Wilson and Cash, 2000 ). Consumers of self-help may possess more social support, a more positive outlook on life (Starker, 1992), and greater life satisfaction (Wilson and Cash, 2000) than individuals who do not pursue self-help. ...
... On the other hand, data have shown that individuals who prefer to seek self-help treatments have greater skills and interest in self-control than those who do not favor self-help strategies (Wilson and Cash, 2000 ). Consumers of self-help may possess more social support, a more positive outlook on life (Starker, 1992), and greater life satisfaction (Wilson and Cash, 2000) than individuals who do not pursue self-help. Perhaps past failed weight-loss attempts are associated with factors like mood and future change efforts to a greater extent among individuals predisposed to mood or anxiety problems than among individuals with better mood and more robust self-control orientation. ...
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Weight-loss history was examined as a predictor of outcome in group self-help obesity treatment. Participants (n = 128; 83% women; mean body mass index = 34.2 kg/m(2); mean age = 47.2 years) in self-help, group behavioral weight-loss treatment reported a mean of 5.1 prior weight-loss attempts and lost 13.8 percent of initial weight in current treatment. A greater number of past attempts independently predicted greater 6-month, 18-month, and intent-to-treat weight losses. Greater magnitude of largest past loss predicted greater 18-month weight loss. In contrast to studies on professional treatment, group self-help participants might benefit from repeated weight-loss efforts despite previous failures.
... There is no reason to think that the people that buy this kind of self-help book are typically chronically unhappy or mentally disturbed. Wilson and Cash (2000) conducted a survey of a sample of 264 college students. Females were more likely to have a positive attitude towards self-help books. ...
... There is empirical evidence that reading problem-focused self-help materials can be effective in the treatment of disorders, and even have outcomes comparable to therapist administered treatments (Wilson & Cash, 2000;Den Boer, Wiersma, & Van Den Bosch, 2004). For example Cuijpers (1997) has made a meta-analysis of six studies in which the effectiveness of bibliotherapy was compared with other treatment modes for unipolar depression. ...
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This thesis is inspired by the utilitarian ideology that seeks the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers and tries to add to this cause considering three questions: 1) What is the quality of popular happiness advice? 2) Is unhappiness concentrated in people with mental disorders? 3) Does the pursuit of happiness cover all ground? Happiness advice: What do philosophical and psychological self-help books recommend for leading a happy life and how well does this fit with research findings on conditions for happiness? An analysis of 57 psychological best-selling self-help books in the Netherlands shows that most deal with topics that are well correlated with happiness. This means that there is ground to expect positive outcomes, but some works offer recommendations that do not fit research results and are therefore likely to be counterproductive. Empirical studies show that self-help materials can relieve specific psychological problems, but there are no data confirming the effectiveness of popular advice for a happier life in general. Happiness of people with mental disorder: How much priority deserves mental health care in the pursuit of greater happiness? Analysis of a large scale panel study in the Netherlands shows that most of the unhappiest people have a mental disorder, and from an utilitarian viewpoint, raising the happiness of these people deserves priority. But not all people with mental disorders are unhappy. Most people with mental disorders feel happy at least often, in particular people diagnosed as having a substance abuse disorder or an anxiety disorder. This does not seem not to be due to distorted appraisal of happiness. Wisdom and negative affect: Several critics of utilitarianism deem ‘wisdom’ higher than happiness. Is there a conflict between these values as the stereotype of ‘Happy Hans’ suggests? Analysis of large scale survey shows that wisdom and happiness are positively correlated. Yet the overlap between the two is so modest that the entities are largely independent. Some adherents of utilitarianism focus on eliminating negative experiences all together. Transhumanists ponder on redesigning the human organism that will give rise to ‘more varied experience, lifelong happiness and exhilarating peak experiences everyday’. Likewise, positive psychologists focus on maximizing positive experiences through learning. It is argued that negative emotions serve a critical function in our lives, and will enable us to stay focused on the parts of reality that are necessary for optimal functioning.
... There is no reason to think that the people that buy this kind of self-help book are typically chronically unhappy or mentally disturbed. Wilson and Cash (2000) conducted a survey of a sample of 264 college students. Females were more likely to have a positive attitude towards selfhelp books. ...
... There is empirical evidence that reading problem-focused self-help materials can be effective in the treatment of disorders, and even have outcomes comparable to therapist administered treatments (Wilson & Cash, 2000;Den Boer, Wiersma, & Van Den Bosch, 2004). For example Cuijpers (1997) has made a meta-analysis of six studies in which the effectiveness of bibliotherapy was compared with other treatment modes for unipolar depression. ...
Article
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Advice for a happier life is found in so-called ‘self-help books’, which are widely sold in modern countries these days. These books popularize insights from psychological science and draw in particular on the newly developing ‘positive psychology’. An analysis of 57 best-selling psychology books in the Netherlands makes clear that the primary aim is not to alleviate the symptoms of psychological disorders, but to enhance personal strengths and functioning. Common themes are: personal growth, personal relations, coping with stress and identity. There is a lot of skepticism about these self-help books. Some claim that they provide false hope or even do harm. Yet there are also reasons to expect positive effects from reading such books. One reason is that the messages fit fairly well with observed conditions for happiness and another reason is that such books may encourage active coping. There is also evidence for the effectiveness of bibliotherapy in the treatment of psychological disorders. The positive and negative consequences of self-help are a neglected subject in academic psychology. This is regrettable, because self-help books may be the most important—although not the most reliable—channel through which psychological insights find their way to the general audience.
... Perhaps in response to this, many of the most influential positive psychologist have written books that aim to reach a broad audience. But even these books do not reach all people -they are mostly attractive to those who love to read (Wilson & Cash, 2000). Moreover, it is not clear if these books are effective. ...
Article
This paper presents an exploration of how knowledge drawn from the positive psychology domain can be used to design products and services that contribute to the happiness of the users. Two distinctions are proposed to structure initiatives in well-being driven design: activity- versus product-focus, and promise- versus problem-focus. A design case is reported in which a product-service system was created with the main function to stimulate people to actively increase their levels of happiness. Finally, an appeal is made for a further exploration of how design thinking can contribute to positive psychology; to investigate how creating products that deliberately stimulate people's subjective well-being can be a means for both validating and substantiating the current contributions of the positive psychology movement.
... Patients who did not consider themselves psychologically minded admitted to struggling to engage with the concepts in the booklet and therefore did not feel as though the booklet influenced them. This finding is consistent with the literature as self-help books have been found to be more effective in people who are psychologically minded (Wilson & Cash, 2000). The prediction that use of the CBT booklet over a 4-week period would reduce anxiety as evidenced by significantly lower means on the STAI was partially supported as trait anxiety significantly decreased but state anxiety did not. ...
Article
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Objective: Psychotherapy is commonly used to treat functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGiDs), yet face-to-face psychotherapy is 15 labour intensive, less convenient for patients as it involves travel to the practice, costly and not always easily available. Self-administered psychotherapies have not been extensively investigated in this population. This study aimed to examine the feasibility and acceptability of a self-administered cognitive behavioural therapy booklet to reduce anxiety in patients with FGiD. Method: A mixed-methods study underpinned by the Health Belief Model was conducted. Results: The booklet has been well received by patients (n = 26) and doctors (n = 8) and its acceptability and feasibility confirmed. Conclusions: The results of the study suggest that this self-help tool is acceptable by patients and doctors as part of treatment for anxiety in FGiDs and its effectiveness should be further tested in adequately powered studies.
... Ta je knjiga je vrijedan doprinos proučavanju uzroka nastanka drukčijeg tipa identiteta, samoidentiteta, čije odjeke možemo pratiti u knjigama za samopomoć. Kad govorimo o knjigama za samopomoć, u inozemnoj, poglavito američkoj, literaturi one se dominantno proučavaju s aspekta kulturne, sociološke i kritičke teorije (Effing, 2009; Rimke, 2000; Zimmerman, Holm i Haddock, 2001; McGee, 2005 i drugi), dok se nekolicina autora bavi njima iz aspekta psihologije, proučavajući njihovu učinkovitost u postizanju emocionalnog zadovoljstva (Wilson i Cash, 2000; Bergsma, 2008; Starker, 2002 [1989]). Što se tiče odnosa knjiga za samopomoć prema društvu, u međunarodnoj literaturi traje rasprava mogu li one pridonijeti promjeni ili održavanju društvenog poretka (Berman, 1970; Hochchild, 1983; Steinem, 1992; Rimke, 2000; McGee 2005; Effing, 2009 ). ...
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This paper focuses on an underresearched topic of the notion of identity and its relation to social order in self-help books. First, the theoretical backgrounds assumed to have influenced the notion of identity in self-help books were analysed. Identity as represented in self-help books can be changed, improved, discovered, strengthened and achieved. It is deficient, and self-help books attempt to compensate for that lack through the processes of self-realisation referred to as “tools for achieving happiness”. Along with the relationship between self-help books and identity at the individual level, another specific topic of the paper is the relation of identity in self-help book to society and social order. Sociological and cultural-critical approach was used to analyse possible contribution that self-help books might make to social change. More specifically, it was analysed whether identity advocated in self-help books can empower individuals for active social participation. Two dominant perspectives in cultural, critical and sociological analyses of self-help books were used to that aim. One claims that striving for individual happiness promoted in self-help books is only maintaining the status quo, while the other one suggests that self-help books can act as catalysts of social change. That is explained by the notion that change at the individual level leads to change in the broader social space. The authors concluded that identities are constantly in the process of transformation, which allows a simultaneous existence of subordination to social order and resistance to it. © 2016, Croatian Sociological Association. All rights reserved.
... On the other hand, other literature revealed some concrete demographic features of people attending self-development programs. In relation to gender, females have a more positive attitude toward self-development books [44] and programs [7,45] in the U.S and Australia. This finding is coincidence with the previous statement of clients with low quality of life, as females usually have a poorer quality of life compared to males [46,47]. ...
Article
Self-development resources are a popular billion -dollar industry worldwide used to improve individuals quality of lives. However, there are insufficient studies for a contemporary conceptualization, especially when it comes to live self-development programs. This paper provides a literature review about current self-development definitions, ideology, concepts, and themes; quality of material provided; quality and characteristics of self-development providers; and the features of the participants who seek such programs. The paper will also discuss the relationsh ip between self-development and related disciplines including coaching, training, mentoring, and motivational speaking. Finally, a new definition will be proposed for self-development coaching programs. Gaps of knowledge are highlighted for further research.
... Lyubomirsky 2013; Seligman 2011). The limitation of these self-help books, however, is that they reach only a select group of people-those who love to read (Wilson and Cash 2000). Moreover, it is not clear how effective these books are. ...
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Background: The current article explores the effect of design on the efficacy of behavioural intervention technologies (BITs). With a user-centred design process, colourful key ring coins were created as a means of introducing self-administered behavioural interventions. Method: A 6-week study tested whether the tangible objects contributed to the effectiveness of these interventions. Three groups were compared (N = 100): one group received happiness-enhancing activities printed on key ring coins, one group received the same activity tasks printed on paper, and one group served as a control. The outcome measure was the satisfaction with life scale (SWLS). Results: The group that received happiness-enhancing activities on key ring coins scored highest on SWLS. Participants mentioned that it was exciting to be reminded to do the task whenever they were using their keys. Others mentioned that the coins helped them to put their hearts into the project, trying their best to finish the tasks. Conclusions: The findings support the proposition that design should be recognized as an important factor when developing effective means for disseminating positive psychology to a broad audience. This highlights the need for multidisciplinary approaches to the development of BITs, embracing active collaborations between psychologists, computer scientists, and (interaction) designers.
Chapter
Self-help/bibliotherapy includes information, explanations, exercises, and treatments that are completed with little or no assistance from a therapist. Research shows that self-help approaches are effective for treating emotional disorders, especially when combined with brief regular therapist contact. Self-help approaches are commonly accepted by both therapists and patients, and have the potential of increasing the accessibility and cost-effectiveness of psychology treatments. This entry describes empirically supported self-help books, and discusses the research evidence concerning several popular self-help books for anxiety disorders and depression. We discuss the costs and benefits of incorporating self-help approaches into the treatment of psychological disorders. Keywords: bibliotherapy; psychopathology; self-help; therapy
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Through analysis of the case of the internet and Salafism in Indonesia, this article argues that the notion of incompatibility between the internet and religion, which is based on the secularization theory that emphasizes on the inherent incompatibility between religion and modernity, is inaccurate and not empirically supported. In fact, the internet provides religion with new opportunities that have been eagerly welcomed, adopted and cultured by religious communities according to their religious purposes and communal interests. This new medium has become a new enabling tool that facilitates religion and religious communities to pursue their goals and advance their views. This positive response to the internet is represented in the ways Salafis in Indonesia are utilizing websites, which can be categorized into four types of usage: ideological, polemical, contextual and communicative uses. The internet is used by Salafis as a new medium for disseminating ideology, engaging in disputes, responding to contemporary issues and building linkage with one another. All this clearly demonstrates that the internet has positively impacted on religion and that religion is able to be part of modernity by adopting and adapting modernity products like the internet.
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Relationship self-help books claim to be able to help their readers achieve happier marriages and more satisfying sex lives. Increasingly, there are large numbers of relationship self-help books arguing that the way to achieve this is by turning to biological determinism – the theory that there are unchanging and immutable differences between ‘the sexes’. Many relationship self-help authors who put forward biologically determinist theories claim to offer new and groundbreaking advice on how to negotiate heterosexual relationships. However, analysis of early twentieth century ‘marriage manuals’ reveals that theories of immutable gender differences firmly rooted in biology are not a new phenomenon. Comparing a selection of contemporary self-help books with nineteenth and twentieth century marriage manuals, this paper will argue that, in fact, very little has changed within the relationship self-help genre. It will also argue that the continued popularity of such biologically determinist literature should be of concern for feminists.
Article
Object Bibliotherapy is a concept which leads us to consider the wide range of actual therapeutic approaches. The originality of bibliotherapy lies in the fact that the use of a writing (brochure, manual, book…) constitutes the central element of the help intervention. Methodology A review of the literature about the different types of bibliotherapeutic books, about the way these books are used, as well as about the levels of contact with the therapist will be presented. The reflection will thereafter focus on scientifically validated books dealing with female sexual dysfunctions. Results Bibliotherapy as treatment for sexual dysfunctions does not equal traditional sex therapies, but it offers an interesting and effective alternative for a specific target audience and a complementary tool to traditional methods. Discussion Different factors influencing the effectiveness of the bibliotherapeutic tool are discussed. Some reflections are also proposed to try to determine the profile of the women to whom the bibliotherapeutic tool may be advised. Conclusions It is noticed that there exists only a few bibliotherapeutic tools which have been validated for sex therapy. The promotion of further research in this field would therefore be highly pertinent in view of the positive results of previous studies.
Thesis
Iraqi people have been experiencing traumatic events continually for several decades. Consequently, high prevalence rates of trauma-related symptoms have been documented. In contrast, there is a clear lack in mental health services available for traumatised people. This study aimed to screen for PTSD, depression, and anxiety, assess related variables (e.g. coping strategies, posttraumatic cognitions, and social support), and develop a self-help guide (SHG) for traumatised university students. Methods: Self-report scales were validated via two studies. The first study validated three scales, including Baghdad Trauma History Screen (BTHS), Brief Cope, and Social Support in a sample of 360 (140 males, 220 females) university students. In the second study, the psychometric properties of the scales of Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms (SPTSS), Posttraumatic Cognitions Inventory (PCTI), and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) were gained in a sample of 505 (199 males, 306 females) university students. The SHG was developed. Its effectiveness was examined in a sample of participants who reported symptoms that fully met PTSD criteria. The sample included 125 participants: 65 in the experimental group (used the guide for six weeks) and 60 in the control group (did not use the guide). Baseline tests were conducted in both groups before conducting the experiment and post tests afterward. In addition, focus groups were conducted with experts and university students to evaluate the SHG. Results: The scales were reliable and valid. Eighty four percent (424/505) of participants reported at least one traumatic event. Thirty five percent of 424 traumatised students fully met the DSM-IV criteria for PTSD with high levels of Depression and anxiety. Only 11% of participants reported no symptoms at all. Females reported more symptoms than males. The results also revealed that active coping, seeking support, and perceived social support from family was associated with low levels of PTSD, while high levels of PTSD related to the number of traumatic events either experienced by participants themselves or their family members or friends, non problem focused coping, negative posttraumatic cognitions about self and the total posttraumatic negative cognitions. After using the SHG, there were significant increases in the tendency to use active and seeking support coping and significant decreases in non problem-focused coping, negative cognitions about self and the total negative cognitions. There was a significant reduction in levels of PTSD. This reduction related to re-experiencing and avoidance symptoms but not hyperarousal. The level of depression was also reduced. Anxiety was not reduced. However, the experiment was not double blind due to practical reasons and this may influence the results. Conclusion: using the SHG enhanced coping strategies and reduced negative cognitions about self. This led to a reduction in PTSD and depression. Several implications were presented. In addition, self-report scales that validated in this study can be used in future research in the field of traumatic stress in Arabic-speaking populations.
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Cognitive-behavioural self-help treatments are widely advocated as the first step in the management of bulimia nervosa. Very little is known about the characteristics and attitudes of patients who are able to utilize self-help treatments. The aim of this study was to identify whether there are any pre-treatment differences in patient characteristics and patients' expectations about computerized self-help between those who do or do not take up this type of treatment. 81 patients who were offered a CD-ROM-based self-help treatment for bulimia nervosa completed baseline assessments including a questionnaire assessing their attitudes to and past experiences with self-help, confidence in using a computer and knowledge about and ability to manage aspects of their eating disorder. Patients who did not take up the CD-ROM-based treatment had a significantly lower expectation of the usefulness of self-help for themselves but not for others. There were no baseline differences between groups in terms of mean BMI and symptom severity, in particular there were no differences in previous utilization of self-help or attitudes to previous self-help, or differences in confidence in using a computer. Qualitative comments of participants who failed to take up the package highlighted a diverse range of concerns and anxieties about computer treatment, some of which were based on misunderstandings about this treatment. These findings show that patients' views about self-help need to be carefully explored and misconceptions corrected if self-help treatment is to be considered by a subgroup of patients. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.
Article
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an empirically supported treatment of body-image dissatisfaction and dysphoria, even when largely self-administered with only modest therapist contact. The present investigation compared the relative effectiveness of selected components of Cash's (1997) body-image CBT program administered in self-help modality. Participants were 89 body-dissatisfied persons who enrolled in the program and were randomly assigned to one of two 6-week, self-help conditions: (a) psychoeducation plus self-monitoring, or (b) this intervention combined with procedures to identify and alter dysfunctional body-image cognitions. All assessments and materials were distributed and returned by postal mail. Among program completers, both conditions produced statistically and clinically significant improvements in multiple facets of body image and psychosocial functioning. Despite high levels of program attrition (53%), results were confirmed by the more conservative intent-to-treat analyses. Predictors of attrition were identified. Further analyses ruled out several variables as moderators of program effectiveness. The unexpected lack of differential effectiveness between the two self-help conditions was possibly the result of low compliance with the added cognitive-change components. We discussed the limitations and implications of our findings vis-à-vis the clinical use and scientific study of components of body-image CBT in various modalities of program delivery.
Article
Cricket in a Fist is composed of seven stories about a secular Jewish family settled in Canada. The central character, Ginny Reilly, is raised by her mother and grandmother, who emigrated from the Netherlands after surviving the Holocaust. When she is thirty-seven, Ginny suffers a head injury that causes temporary memory loss and a permanent personality change, and she becomes a self-help guru. Following a cultural crisis such as the Jewish Holocaust, a family may disconnect itself from cultural memory, and a family without cultural memory, like an amnesiac patient, must reformulate a sense of identity. As the characters in Cricket in a Fist grapple for an unblemished identity in Canada, they try to dismiss their unruly history. Analogously, the conscious formation of self is the basis of Ginny’s self-help philosophy, which urges wilful forgetfulness as a means to cast off all traces of irresolvable ambiguity and traumatic memory.
Article
The purpose of the present research was to examine and understand, within a cultural context, the subjective experiences of recovery from child abuse of adults who have not sought the help of mental health professionals. Examining the cultural context of recovery permitted a glance at the environmental climate in which people came to understand, respond, and make sense of their child abuse experiences. To achieve this objective, dominant themes regarding beliefs about recovery were gathered from cultural documents, specifically, popular books on recovery from abuse, and from individual accounts of recovery from abuse. The present study was qualitative in nature and conducted within the framework of an ethnographic inquiry. The data were content analysed for themes of recovery. A comparison of recovery themes in popular books and participant interviews revealed that participants descriptions of their recovery mirrored those described by popular books, with a few exceptions. Factors considered helpful for recovery which emerged from both sources included education/information, relationships (e.g., support and resolution), attending to ones feelings and beliefs about the abuse (e.g, re-experiencing), self-care (e.g., coping with stress), and spirituality. In both popular books and participant stories, value was placed on the survivor looking inward, and differentiating oneself, ones feelings and beliefs, from those of others. This orientation served to delineate clear boundaries from others, and to allow one to assert oneself and to develop an independent view of oneself (Markus & Kitayama, 1991). As such, it reflects Canadian/American cultural values of agency, autonomy, and personal control (Kirsh & Kuiper, 2002). The participants experiences of recovery enabled them to reconstruct their views of themselves, their abusers, and people in general, in a way that enabled them to assert their differences and distinct values from others. Although support was emphasized, its role was confined to helping the participants gain new understanding of their experiences. Their disclosures of abuse experiences to supportive others were guided less by the need to create harmony or to fit in with an in-group, as would be expected in collectivist societies, than it was by the need to assert oneself, ones feelings, and ones needs. Also, participants accounts of recovery illustrated that they were relatively well versed in the use of psychological terms and concepts such as grief, confrontation, self-esteem, and role-models that were common in the popular books. The participants developed new views of themselves which were geared toward developing a more self-enhancing sense of self. These shifts reflect a discourse common in psychology and self-help culture, which directs the individual toward self-actualization, heightened self-esteem, and increased autonomy (Starker, 1989). This study also demonstrated how, through their own personal resourcefulness, people can be agents of their own recovery. Participants accessed unique resources (e.g., participating in sports, parenting, religion) to make sense of their experiences. In some cases, participants focussed more on drawing meaning from these self-enhancing resources than they did on re-experiencing painful memories associated with the abuse. Given the emphasis on re-experiencing trauma in clinical and popular literature, the various routes taken by participants suggest that the process of re-experiencing may be over-emphasized. Further research on recovery, outside of the therapeutic context, may serve to clarify how self-recovery takes place, possibly contributing to a new discourse on recovery.
Article
Objectif La bibliothérapie est un concept qui nous amène à considérer la grande diversité des approches thérapeutiques actuelles. L’originalité de celle-ci réside dans le fait qu’au centre de l’intervention d’aide, on retrouve l’utilisation d’un écrit (brochure, manuel, livre…). Méthodologie Une revue de la littérature des différents types d’ouvrages bibliothérapeutiques, leurs modes d’utilisation et les niveaux de contact avec le thérapeute est présentée. La réflexion est ensuite focalisée sur les ouvrages validés scientifiquement traitant des dysfonctions sexuelles féminines. Résultats La bibliothérapie pour les dysfonctions sexuelles n’égale pas les sexothérapies traditionnelles mais elle offre une alternative intéressante et efficace pour un public ciblé ou un outil complémentaire à celles-ci. Discussion Différents facteurs influençant l’efficacité de l’ouvrage bibliothérapeutique sont discutés. Quelques pistes sont également proposées pour tenter de déterminer le profil de femmes auxquelles l’ouvrage bibliothérapeutique peut être conseillé. Conclusions Il est identifiable qu’il existe peu d’outils bibliothérapeutiques validés en sexothérapie. Promouvoir la recherche dans ce domaine aurait donc toute sa pertinence au vu des rapports positifs des précédentes études.
Article
Despite the limited, albeit positive, evidence of the efficacy of self-help books (SHBs), they are widely prescribed to patients by therapists. It appears that this is due in part to their great appeal to the general public. Based upon the available empirical studies, it appears that some SHBs are effective in changing problematic behaviors when used alone and when used in conjunction with therapy. In this article, the case is made for a SHB plus cognitive behavioral therapy as being more useful in some cases than a SHB alone, because the combination addresses the crucial and frequently cited issue of compliance with the directives of the treatment regimen in a SHB (Rosen, 1987). We offer recommendations for selecting and assigning SHBs that we believe are beneficial.
Article
This paper illustrates how fiction and non-fiction books can be used as effective clinical tools. Included are research findings on the effectiveness of books in treatment as well as titles of books recommended for social intervention. The paper stresses the strengths and limitations of books in treatment. It is emphasized that books should only be used as an adjunct to the treatment process and not as the sole treatment approach.
Article
Discusses self-help books as being among the primary vehicles for health education and care in the US. Such books are widely available and offer prescriptive advice in such areas as diet, exercise, stress, parenting, and sexuality. Recent studies are reviewed which suggest that consumers are very satisfied with their self-help programs and that psychiatrists, psychologists, and internists commonly prescribe such works as adjuncts to treatment. The lack of validating data for most self-help works is discussed, as is their inspirational value. Clinicians and researchers are urged to explore these issues so that self-help materials may be more responsibly created and administered. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
[The authors] obtained the self-help book ratings of more than 500 experts in clinical and counseling psychology. [This guide] can be used effectively by both mental health professionals and the lay public. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
432 Ss participated in 3 experiments that varied (1) presence or absence of a pretest on a personality questionnaire and (2) an intervening treatment condition that involved reading either 1 of 2 self-help paperback books or reading no book. Dependent measures were posttest scores on the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire, the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale, and the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF). Reading of self-help books had no significant effect on any of the self-report measures of personality. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Wendy Simonds examines what the phenomenon of self-help reading reveals about gender relations in contemporary American culture. She interviews women readers and editors of self-help books, and looks at bestsellers since 1963—those offering advice about managing relationships, enhancing sexuality, developing self-esteem, becoming assertive, and improving spiritual life—including Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique," Robin Norwood's "Women Who Love Too Much," Robert Bly's "Iron John," and Alex Comfort's "The Joy of Sex." She argues that the genre's continued success is indicative of readers' search for meaning. Drawing on feminist theory and critical cultural studies, Simonds explores the appeal of self-help books, and asks what readers are making of them. She looks at how these books affect the social construction, cultural consumption, and transmission of ideas about gender and self. She includes discussions of readers' assessments of the meaning and effectiveness of self-help reading; the interaction between religious and therapeutic idealogy in the activity of reading this genre; and creators'—both authors' and editors'—views of their work. Are self-help books politically conservative or liberating, feminist of antifeminist? Simonds finds that the genre tends to recommend individual change, not social change; yet it can also validate caring and can encourage a sense of community among women. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Presents a cross-validation and extension of W. M. Reynold's (see record 1982-08895-001) short form of Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale, using data obtained from undergraduate ( n = 304) and graduate ( n = 132) students. Unlike Reynolds, the authors administered the 13 items as a separate entity. Data indicate that this 13-item short form is a viable alternative to the full scale. (11 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Research suggests that bibliotherapy is a popular research tool in studies of self-help programs, but remains less convincing as a treatment modality. Conceptual and design problems in the use of bibliotherapy are discussed. There appears to be increased interest in bibliotherapy among practitioners, and survey literature suggests that it is widely used with certain groups. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The effectiveness of 4 self-help books given randomly to newspaper-solicited participants ( N = 64) who had recently experienced a divorce or breakup was examined. One group received a behaviorally oriented book that described numerous strategies for coping with loss-specific symptoms and beginning new relationships. Two groups received books based on stage theories of divorce adjustment that included strategies and information regarding each phase of the adjustment process. The remaining group received a book written to help people cope with general life crises and specifically with any type of loss. All groups significantly improved in terms of depressive, general psychiatric, and loss-specific symptoms from pretest to posttest but did not differ significantly from each other at posttest. Participants reporting higher expectations of receiving help from the books also reported greater symptomatic change and attributed greater amounts of change to the books. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Administered a questionnaire concerning health-related attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to 166 patients (aged 22–80 yrs) attending VA Medical Center clinics. Results were examined with regard to whether or not Ss reported reading self-help books. Readership was reported by slightly more than half the Ss, and it was not significantly associated with clinic or age. Compared to others, the self-help readers indicated a greater level of social engagement and support, better understanding of their health problems and treatments, and reported a more positive outlook. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Examined whether level of interest in a self-help book and attitude valence (positive vs negative) regarding self-help books in general would affect responses on a measure of personality. 37 female introductory psychology students served in a preliminary study that evaluated the interest value of 40 self-help books, and 151 students participated in the main part of Exp 1. Results suggest that the personal appeal of a self-help book may have little relation to its therapeutic value. In Exp 2, with 211 additional Ss, positive information regarding self-help books appeared to be associated with higher Psychoticism scores on the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Using meta-analysis, we examined the efficacy of self-administered treatments. Self-administered treatments were compared with no treatment and with therapist-administered treatments. Results indicated that self-administered treatments were reliably more effective than no treatment and that differences between self-administered and therapist-administered treatments were nonsignificant. Effect sizes for type of target problem (e.g., phobias, affective disturbances) were comparable. These results suggest that self-administered treatments in general are effective in comparison with no treatment. The limitations of this review are noted, including those that preclude the conclusion that self-administered treatments are as effective as therapist-administered programs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Examined data from a survey of 121 psychologists in 2 urban areas regarding their experiences with and attitudes toward self-help books. Ss were found to be quite positive in their evaluation of self-help works, and most prescribed them to patients. Locale (east vs west coast) and orientation differences were observed in prescriptive practices. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
122 subjects served in a study which examined whether neuroticism, introversion, and sex predicted interest in reading psychological self-help paperbacks. Subjects completed (a) a pretest questionnaire asking about types of self-help books, (b) the Eysenck Personality Inventory, (c) a chapter from a bestselling self-help book, and (d) an 11-item questionnaire about their interests in self-help books, therapy, and psychological problems. A principal component analysis on 12 questions (dependent measure) gave two major factors, one dealing with self-help books the other with therapy. Scores on these two factors, for each subject, were entered in a regression analysis, using neuroticism, introversion and sex as predictors. Neuroticism was the only significant predictor.
Article
Recent research suggests that some of the wording of the original Self-Consciousness Scale is too abstract for easy understanding by research participants who are not college students. This article presents a revised version of that scale, along with information regarding its psychometric properties. In general, the psychometric properties of the revised scale compare quite favorably to those of the original scale. It is suggested that the revised Self-Consciousness Scale be used whenever data are collected from populations other than college students.
Article
The development and psychometric properties of the Extended Satisfaction With Life Scale (ESWLS) are described in detail. The ESWLS is a 50-item self-report scale that measures satisfaction with life in nine domains. It can be completed by most people in under 20 minutes and can be used by researchers and clinicians. The readability of the ESWLS was estimated to be between the seventh and tenth grade levels. Internal consistency, estimated by coefficient , ranged from 0.81 to 0.96 for the individual subscales. Two-week test-retest reliability coefficients ranged from 0.74 to 0.87. Results of exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses strongly supported the factor structure of the ESWLS. Preliminary evidence of convergent and discriminant validity is provided as well as preliminary norms.
Article
We conducted a meta-analysis of 40 self-help studies examining 61 treatments which used as control groups no-treatment, wait-list, or placebo comparisons. We found an overall treatment effect size for self-help interventions of 0.76 at posttreatment and an effect size of 0.53 at follow-up. Studies that used a more stringent control group — placebo — had a lower mean effect size than studies utilizing a no-treatment control. No differences were found for unadulterated self-help treatments and those with minimal contact from a therapist or which were in fact therapist-assisted. Some target problems were more amenable to self-help approaches, including skills deficits and diagnostic problems, such as fears, depression, headache, and sleep disturbance. Habit disturbances such as smoking, drinking, and overeating, were less amenable to self-help treatments. Compliance with the treatment regimen was found to improve treatment effects. While effect size was negatively related to duration of treatment, this effect was largely a function of duration being confounded with type of problem. Results were examined from the perspective of problems that are targetable with self-help approaches. Recommendations for improvements in research design for future studies are also made.
Article
The present paper describes the development of a self-report instrument to assess individual tendencies to apply self-control methods to the solution of behavioral problems. The 36 items included in the final version of the Self-Control Schedule (SCS) describe (a) use of cognitions and “self-statements” to control emotional and physiological responses, (b) the application of problem solving strategies, (c) the ability to delay immediate gratification, and (d) perceived selfefficacy. The reliability and the validity of the scale was evaluated by a number of studies involving more than 600 subjects. Incremental validity of the SCS was achieved by correlations with other self-report scales and by an experimental study. Preliminary findings indicate that the SCS might be a useful instrument in research on self-control.
Article
Levels of psychological mindedness, mental well-being, and self-consciousness of 89 students of a small liberal arts college were examined. Psychological mindedness, the awareness of one's and others' thoughts, feelings, and motives, is a recently studied phenomenon. The main hypothesis was that there is a positive linear correlation between psychological mindedness, as measured by the Psychological Mindedness Scale (Conte, Plutchik, Jung & Picard, Comprehensive Psychiatry, 31, 426–431, 1990), and mental well-being, as measured by the Happy Scale (Ryff, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 1069–1081, 1989). This hypothesis was supported (P < 0.01). As expected, there was also a positive linear correlation between self-consciousness, as measured by the Private Self-Consciousness Scale (Fenigstein, Scheier & Buss, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 43, 522–527, 1975), and psychological mindedness (P < 0.01). A multiple regression indicated that as psychological mindedness increases, the level of mental well-being increases, and the level of self-consciousness decreases. In addition, psychology students were found to be significantly more psychologically minded than other social science students (P = 0.05) and more self-conscious than humanities students and science students (P < 0.01). Though psychological mindedness varied with major, it was found to transcend both class year and gender.
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published or submitted for publication
Article
Reviews the current status of self-help behavioral treatment manuals. Organizing concepts and strategies for the development and evaluation of such programs are described. Programs that have been published or empirically tested for the treatment of phobias, smoking, obesity, sexual dysfunctions, assertiveness, child behavior problems, study skills, and physical fitness, as well as general instructional texts, are reviewed. It is concluded that the validation of available self-help behavior therapy manuals is extremely variable at the present time. It is suggested that future research evaluate manuals under conditions of intended usage, recruit clinically relevant Ss, employ follow-through and cost-effectiveness indices, include appropriate controls and follow-up assessments, and attempt to identify S or other clinical predictors of treatment outcome. The clinical and ethical issues raised by self-help programs are also briefly considered. (5 p ref)
Article
This study investigated the properties of a new measure of psychological mindness (PM). A 45-item self-report questionnaire was administered to consecutive admissions to a large outpatient clinic that provides primarily psychodynamically oriented individual psychotherapy. The PM scores of a sample of 44 of these patients who attended a median of 15 sessions were correlated with several outcome measures obtained from retrospective chart reviews. These measures consisted of the number of sessions attended, discharge ratings, and change scores on a Global Assessment Scale (GAS) and on a symptom checklist. Coefficient alpha for the Psychological Mindedness (PM) Scale indicated high reliability. Total PM score correlated significantly with three of the outcome measures. Twenty of the 45-items were good predictors of one or more outcome measures.
Article
Asserts that G. M. Rosen (see record 1987-16844-001), in his statements about self-help books, failed to consider what is involved in selling books on any subject. It is acknowledged that some publishers' claims go beyond the author's intentions. The author attempts to place publishing into perspective for those psychologists who want to publish books that should be read by a general audience. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Used meta-analysis to examine the efficacy of bibliotherapy. Bibliotherapy treatments were compared to control groups and therapist-administered treatments. The mean estimated effect size (d) of the 70 samples analyzed was + 0.565. There was no significant differences between the effects of bibliotherapy and therapist-administered treatments, as well as no significant erosion of effect sizes at follow-up. Bibliotherapy did appear more effective for certain problem types (assertion training, anxiety, and sexual dysfunction) than for others (weight loss, impulse control, and studying problems). Overall the amount of therapist contact during bibliotherapy did not seem to relate to effectiveness, but there was evidence that certain problem types (weight loss and anxiety reduction) responded better with increased therapist contact. Recommendations for future research were given, especially for more research on the commonly purchased books and moderator analyses by personality type and reading ability.
Self-help books and clinical intervention Using books in clinical practice
  • J T Pardeck
Pardeck, J. T. (1991a). Self-help books and clinical intervention. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 18, 270±272. Pardeck, J. T. (1991b). Using books in clinical practice. Psychotherapy in Private Practice, 9, 105±119.
Perspectives on self-help and bibliotherapy: you are what you read
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The comparative ecacy of two cognitive-behavioral self-help programs for a negative body image
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Advice givers strike gold
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A questionnaire measure of psychological mindedness and the capacity to bene®t psychotherapy
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I'm dysfunctional, you're dysfunctional: the recovery movement and other self-help fashions
  • W Kaminer
Kaminer, W. (1993). I'm dysfunctional, you're dysfunctional: the recovery movement and other self-help fashions. New York: Vintage Books.