Author: Paul Damien
ISBN-10: 1934454141
ISBN-13: 978-1934454145

I found myself at a quandary when reading Paul Damien’s Help!: Debunking the Outrageous Claims of Self-help Gurus. First of all, I wanted to be totally open to what Paul Damien had to say. I have read numerous books on The Secret and the Law of Attraction in the past few years and let me say beforehand that I have read books from the “gurus” and from those who took looks into the industry, movement, or whatever other label might fit it. And I must say that although Paul Damien’s book might not have been the first to lambaste these gurus, it was the first book that I had the opportunity to read through and through.

First I would like to say that I have had many of the same doubts as Paul Damien regarding the industry of spiritual self help books. Though there is help to be found in many of them, or even most of them, they often do rely on alchemy and false logic to promote their causes. Paul Damien has an excellent nose for this, for which he points out many grand examples throughout his work. Several of these books would rely solely on false science and quasi-religious mysticism to pull in their readers like a symbolic venus fly trap. And I agree as Paul Damien points out that most of these author gurus feed upon one another in their shallow philosophies, often borrowing directly from one another’s pages like medieval religious writers. In fact, one pet peeve of mine that Paul Damien didn’t seem to cover the fact that so many of these guys use the same quotes of famous people over and over and very often even get the quotes wrong or out of context, which only backs up the author’s overall argument.

That being said, all well and good… Paul Damien made many strong cases against Deepak Chopra, Rhonda Byrne and others but in my opinion he went overboard. Yes, overboard. Rather than simply taking points and dissecting them, which he did, Damien added far too much negative sarcasm to take all of his arguments seriously. Did he prove his point? Yes, at times. Did he miss his mark and get off the point? Yes, at times. I felt it very difficult to keep an open mind reading this book because the author’s tirades were often so vicious you wanted to see his targets as victims rather than subjects of a book dissecting their theories and testimonies. It seemed he saved his biggest salvos for fellow countryman Deepak Chopra as well. In this way I felt that Paul Damien does himself an injustice in his own effort, no, let’s say crusade against these self help gurus. By creating his own aggressive language for the book (Choprasinners, Insect Nation, She-Mantis and many others – often related to bodily functions as well…) and in describing negatively concocted, highly improbable imaginary scenes and conversations one is forced to wonder whether Paul Damien’s only gripe with these people is that he believes they are resting on false science.

What I am getting at is this: I believe the author’s rational arguments would stall much taller if they had been given simply as rational arguments and not emotive rants – meaning that he should have done a better job at keeping his cool. If Paul Damien’s job was to pick apart the self help books I would call the book a triumph. If his job was to persuade I would have to say the author shot himself in the proverbial foot

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