BOZTEPE: Self-help books can be extremely valuable resources

Opinions Column: Kaanotations

The best thing a human can do for themselves is to heal from within. Healing takes time, patience, hard work, new mentalities and positivity. Self-help is crucial, but why are self help books looked upon so negatively within our society? Why is it weak of someone to read a book that discusses disorders and issues one might have? The stigma versus self-help books within the United States is absurd and must reduce immediately. Self-help books can help someone feel empowered, can help someone break down an underlying issue or trauma they faced in the past and regressed from their memory and it can lead to positive thinking and meditation. 

Reading in general is something that can help you learn different aspects about topics and thoughts, pursue aspirations you never knew you had before or knowledge you did not have regarding various subjects. So, self-help books can help improve our lives significantly and assist us in accomplishing short and long-term goals. Self-help is a growing genre in books and helps the reader learn about strategies and practices people apply to their lives in hopes to overcome traumas, to obtain a more positive mindset and learn about many other subjects, such as different meditation types like breathing techniques and yoga. The end goal of a self-help book is in the name itself, for the reader to help themselves with the knowledge provided in the book and change some aspects of their life. 

The stigma is usually correlated to people’s skepticism that someone else’s knowledge can help them. There are also those who judge self-help books due to their own insecurities, but rather than facing them, they devalue methods that might help themselves overcome their insecurities. Self-help books are not just for those who have insecurities, it is much broader than that. Many people go through transitioning moments in life, such as divorces, marriages, a loss in the family and having a newborn. Regardless of the situation, self-help books can aid in transitioning stages of life both with being able to balance your emotions and help you to know and analyze what those emotions are. 

Let us put this into perspective with an example: If one person is having a chronic pain of some sort, let us say someone who was an athlete all their life who had a chronic injury that caused nerve damage, what are their options? They can take specific medications to ease the pain, but those medicines are only temporary relievers, and the second you get off the pills the pain comes back good as new. Also, those pills, regardless of if they’re nerve relaxers or even anti-depressants to help reduce the sensation of nerves, have many side effects that usually effect the everyday life of an average person. So, if a person has the option to fix the problem from the root, rather than treating symptoms and having relief for life, does that not sound better? Now, we can compare something like self-help books to physical therapy, chiropractic treatment and acupuncture.

Each of those three treatments normally use minimal tools and zero medications to heal one’s body. Rather than using a medication to help symptoms, acupuncture can correct imbalances of energy flow within the body with small needles and physical therapy, and chiropractic treatment can realign your body back to its normal shape and fix muscle and nerve spasms along with some ailments once the body is back to its proper positions. This relates to self-help books as there are many psychological perspectives and theories within this book that can help your brain overcome traumas rather than taking any medications to temporarily numb any existing pain.

This does not mean that self-help books are for everyone, but every book is not for every person regardless of the genre. If someone dislikes one fiction novel, that normally does not deter them from ever reading fictitious books again. Self-help books could have the thought-provocative philosophies and ideologies that could closely relate to someone’s struggles and help them change their depressed moods and place new patterns in their life that they now follow, which can in turn lead to a more positive and productive lifestyle. Philosophical theories from the past were all self-help books of their time just to put this into perspective. Famous German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche discussed “The Gay Science,” because he believed science was dying and diverging from actually searching for the truth, or Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” was a call to action for provocative thinkers to look outside the cave and past the shadows. It was seen by many as the birth of philosophers. In each piece of writing, there is a moral, a story, a bigger picture encompassed by many themes and self-help books are no different and deserve the respect and opportunity that is shown on all the other genres. Self-help can only help if one is open to helping themselves by changing how their brain works instead of numbing their brain with medications and pessimism. 

Kaan Jon Boztepe is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore double majoring in philosophy and history. His column, "Kaanotations," runs on alternate Wednesdays. 


*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

YOUR VOICE | The Daily Targum welcomes submissions from all readers. Due to space limitations in our print newspaper, letters to the editor must not exceed 500 words. Guest columns and commentaries must be between 700 and 850 words. All authors must include their name, phone number, class year and college affiliation or department to be considered for publication. Please submit via email to by 4 p.m. to be considered for the following day’s publication. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Targum.

Support Independent Student Journalism

Your donation helps support independent student journalists of all backgrounds research and cover issues that are important to the entire Rutgers community. All donations are tax deductible.