Boris Kachka’s article in New York Magazine lacks a thesis except to say self-help has changed and it’s now under different guises.
It’s changed: “The guru has given way to the data set” – meaning more science is involved.
It’s everywhere: “books on ‘willpower’ and ‘vulnerability’—self-help masquerading as ‘big-idea’ books.”
Is this a bad thing? He hints that it might be.
“Strains of self-help culture—entrepreneurship, pragmatism, fierce self-reliance, gauzy spirituality—have been embedded in the national DNA since Poor Richard’s Almanack. But in the past there was always a countervailing force, an American stew of shame and pride and citizenship that kept these impulses walled off, sublimating private anxiety to the demands of an optimistic meritocracy. That force has gradually been weakened by the erosion of all sorts of structures, from the corporate career track to the extended family and the social safety net.”
What do you think?