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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!