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Why the Self-Help Industry Is Dominating the U.S.

A brief history of self-improvement

Marshall Sinclair
Feb 24, 2019 · 9 min read
Credit: Scar1984/Getty Images

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A brief history of self-help

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Portrait of Samuel Smiles, a ‘founding father’ of the self-help genre. Credit: Sir George Reid via Wikimedia

By the 2000s, the self-help genre had blossomed from paperback beginnings into a full-blown industry.



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As an interesting aside, Norman Vincent Peale was also Donald Trump’s pastor, which could explain Trump’s positive, uncompromising self-confidence. Photo: Tom Gates/Getty Images

Despite its various makeovers through the decades, self-help never really left the advice of its founder, Smiles: “Heaven helps those who help themselves.”

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Photo: Jim Spellman/Getty Images

Self-help today


For over a century, self-help has meant self-improvement. Perhaps this time around, self-help should mean self-acceptance.

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Manson’s bell curve graph. Credit: Mark Manson

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