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In-Depth Interview: Danish Psychologist, Author Is Wary of Self-Improvement Schemes

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Svend Brinkmann, author of Stand Firm: Resisting the Self-Improvement Craze, joins us for an animated discussion about the limits of self-help programs and books.While Brinkmann admits he's a crusty contrarian, he points out that his book--which is critical of self-help programs--is available in bookstores in the self-help section.  He mimics the format of popular guides with his own 7-point plan, starting with "cut out the navel gazing", urging people to deal with their problems by reaching outward, not inward.

We talk about Americans' addiction to self-improvement, which Brinkmann says can lead to depression and anxiety.  He's quick to underscore that he's not talking about people with serious emotional and psychological issues--just those who use therapy and self-improvement as a crutch.  Your humble host apologizes in advance to any sensitive gluten-free listeners.

Brinkmann offers criticism of the promotion of self-esteem, where we have some disagreement.  Be sure to listen to this podcast before you buy "Thin Thighs in Thirty Days" or a Tony Robbins book!