If you’re like me, you think I’ve already written about this book. In fact, I haven’t. We are confusing it with this “last book” I wrote about in October, 2018. The Last Self-Help Book You’ll Ever Need by Paul Pearsall (1942-2007) is NOTHING like the other one. That other book went to the future and brought back what it found, which is ostensibly why it’s the “last book” you’ll ever read. This one is… a debunking book. A little funny, a little bitter, a little true. Maybe a lot true.
Consider the subtitle: Repress Your Anger, Think Negatively, Be A Good Blamer, & Throttle Your Inner Child. Funny, right? Well, kind of.
We’ve all seen those “DEmotivational” posters:
- What matters most in life are quotes that tell you what life is really about
- The best things in life are actually really expensive
- If you never believe in anything, you’ll never be disappointed
Pearsall’s book is like that, for about 200 pages. Keeps it interesting and amusing, I s’pose!
But seriously, he has a point. Many of them, in fact. The BIGGEST point can be distilled down to this:
Savor the moment. No, wait. Notice the moment. Um. Huh. Live in the moment?
I feel like I’ve heard that before. You? (If I added emoticons in this blog, I’d add a rolling eye guy right here. Of course we’ve heard this before! Right? Big Duh!)
Well. Now I’m the curmudgeon. No, contrarian? Yes, that’s better. This book is written by a contrarian and now I sound like one, too!
There is science included but be warned, it’s mostly just his opinion, which is interesting because he’s written a whack of self-help books. What are they? Chopped liver?
Here’s the thing: After reading so many self-help books, we all realize there are some tried-and-true tenets, like… well, living in the moment.
There are also some tenets that have needed a hearty dose of debunking, like… uh… keeping a positive attitude no matter what and you’ll always get what you need and/or want.
In this book, I read that a positive attitude is not necessary for healing. <<< Taken straight from the chapter “Escape From Health Hysteria.” Was this chapter written for me, or what? I know, right? The main point of the chapter is to stay engaged in life, savor each day, and as health issues occur, take care of them. Easy/peasy. Makes perfect sense… if you’re not a hypochondriac with health anxiety. *sigh*
If there is an underlying snarky message, it’s this: Quit acting the victim.
Again, I get it. People like Pearsall believe that we’ve made everyone a victim. And I believe we really have reached the center of the maze with this belief.
Victimization, to those debunking self-help (and to be fair, all psychotherapy) is the elephant in the room.
The opposite of victim may be victor but that’s not how I read Pearsall’s pathway out of victimization. I read it as this: Focus on others instead of self. Difficult to be a victim when you’re helping others.
Pearsall is smart and witty, and the book is easy to read and often entertaining. I didn’t love it but I liked it.
And no, it most-likely won’t be the last self-help book you’ll ever need. But it’s a good one for your collection.