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The Last Self-Help Book You'll Ever Need Paperback – Bargain Price, January 2, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kudos to Pearsall (The Pleasure Prescription) for arguing against the "platitudes of self-empowerment" that dominate the self-help bookshelves. Their relentlessly upbeat tone and unrealistic idea of happiness will only make you feel worse, he says. Using research studies to bolster his points, Pearsall takes on the "McMorals, tenets about life that go down easily but aren't good for our long-term well being," as well as popular practitioners, such as Dr. Phil. Pearsall, an adjunct clinical professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, wants readers to stop being so self-centered. It's more important, he says, to love others before oneself, and appropriate guilt and anxiety are essential to learning to live a better life. "Stop expressing yourself," he says. "Shut up and listen." And don't avoid blaming: "Finding the right person to blame is essential for mental health." He explains cogently why such statements make more sense than the usual self-help shibboleths. Sometimes, particularly in chapters that tackle diet and aging, Pearsall sounds preachy and falls into the self-help trap of making generalizations without backup. But this contrarian volume gives readers plenty to consider and offers a hopeful and helpful approach to being mindful and fully engaged in each moment—good or bad. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (January 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465054870
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465054879
  • ASIN: B001G8WKZI
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,138,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By "vanmystic" on June 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Before you pick up another self-help book, read this one. You may decide to stop listening to everyone else about how to live your own best life and finally be able to enjoy ("savour") your messy humanity just the way it is. Most important - don't skip the chapter on the "asylum" of the family. It makes some very good and thought-provoking points about what really makes a good family (surprise - it is not material wealth or "opportunity").

I don't agree with everything Pearsall says (which is the point of the book anyway), but he opens the door for us to take a deep breath and realize that there is absolutely NO formula that can possibly encompass the entire complexity of a human life, and that our lives are meant to be confusing and infinitely messy. Otherwise they would be boring and valueless. Pearsall embraces real human being and living and inspires his readers to do the same. He has given me more courage to listen to myself and the people around me, rather than to the overwhelming amount of media produced by people who've never even met me.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Tryon on June 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Don't get stuck on the provocativeness of the title. I have enjoyed and admired Dr Pearsall's other books, and this one might be his best, yet. As usual, he backs up his assertions with plenty of notes and references to particular studies. And there is a fine index, which is a joy because I found myself often wanting to refer to earlier bits of the book.

There were a number of "laugh out loud" moments of recognition: descriptions of family members that no one would choose, discussion of family as informal asylum, celebrations of human connectedness that give moments of delight even to difficult journeys.

This book is also a primer in dealing with intractable realities. Positive thinking is not the answer to every situation; anyone who has borne a deep grief knows this. Dr Pearsall recognizes the paradoxes inherent in living fully and in becoming honest with ourselves. Life is sunshine and shadow, day and night. Those who feel guilty at not being able to think themselves well or at being unable to clear all negativity from one's life will find a healthy dose of relief here. It is all right, the author seems to say, to acknowledge that the night is dark and that daylight seems far away.

A controversial aspect of this book will be its author's insistence that many incipient problems for individuals relate to over-emphasis on the individual in recent years. Codependence, for instance, might describe a functional, but difficult relationship; perhaps -- provocative idea, this -- we should be learning to care for others more than we care for ourselves. Maybe self-esteem is not only over-rated, but also might lead to unattractive deformities in personality.

But lampooning some sacred cows is not the point of the book. Rather, the book reminds us that it is a wonderful life. Throughout each chapter we are invited to embrace the full wonder of it all.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By JanSobieski on April 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nowhere is the inclination to substitute cliches for substative thought more evident than in the self-help therapeutic culture. "Love should not be conditional" we are told sonorously by TV "experts." "Be all that you can be," "live up to your full potential," "nurture and understand your inner child," "express your anger," and my personal favorite, "we are all victims" are just a few of the silly old chestnuts that masquerade as legitimate advice. And of course sometimes there is an element of truth hiding somewhere in these hoary old sayings. But more often than not they are accepted as gospel and repeated ad nauseum until they've gained general acceptance despite being patently wrong most of the time.

Pearsall explores these and other hackneyed canards and exposes them to the light of the scientific method. Deep down, haven't most people suspected that many of these fabrications are utterly bogus? Pearsall says that the cornerstone of the self-help culture, the addiction paradigm is also a flawed construct. Only 5% (FIVE!!) of people in Alcoholics Anonymous succeed. This, according to their own literature. The famous 12 step program is unsuccessful in NINTY FIVE percent of cases!! Something's gotta be wrong with that particular picture!

Have you ever considered the possibility that this is as good as it gets? Well, it probably is, so why not sit back, relax and enjoy yourself? We're wearing ourselves out trying to "be all that we can be" and living up to our potential. Ever consider the possiblity that perhaps some people are just naturally happier than others? One of things that makes people so darn unhappy is that they think they should be happier and more fulfilled.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Phyllis Le Chat on November 14, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If I had to hear that old saw, "doing the best (s)he could" one more time, I was going to scream. Was Hitler doing the best he could? I hardly think so. Too many people seem to hide behind support groups, addictions, inner children running rampant, and myriad rationalizations why they can't or won't actually get down to it and just grow into mature, responsible, loving/lovable people. I found this book while sifting through my library for books to sell, and am delighted with it. To put it simply, it is a relief to read a book that is not a typical self-help book.

Dr. Paul Pearsall is "an internationally recognized neuropsychologist." He isn't Oprah, Dr. Phil, Carolyn Myss, he didn't write "The Secret" or any one of the number of mind-stunting books that flood the marketplace and populate the bookshelves of too many people. He has genuine credentials in his field and actually writes about productive actions for a new way of looking at yourself that don't involve psychobabble. He isn't touchy-feely, feelgood, co-dependency, addiction counseling, or bromide based. He's hilarious, challenging, and can back up what he says with common sense. He's the skeptics' guide to growth. For example, in chapter 2, he offers his alternative "facts of life": lose hope, give up, think sad thoughts, settle for second (or third or sixth) best, don't "work through" your grief, be a pessimist, don't try to discover your personal power, don't believe in yourself, men aren't from Mars women aren't from Venus, and most important to me personally, you're not a victim. He presents many more anti-bromides that came as a big relief to me. He reminds us that intuitiion can be wrong, a "prove it" mindset separates us from the herd, and becoming a contrarian makes a lot of sense.
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