Self-help books are everywhere. They flood bookstores and are a huge business. Their how-to-do-it approach is immensely popular and intellectually facile. Self-help books follow a “step” format. If a person performs step 1, then step 2, and so on, then he or she will achieve some self-understanding, change a bad habit, find an appropriate person for a relationship, be more assertive, manage anger, and so on. But, can maladaptive functioning be altered solely by gaining intellectual knowledge or by advice from another person? Even when another individual has accomplished some change in himself, will his or her experience help you?
It seems to me that good self-help books pose great questions but do not provide meaningful insights for other people. Self-understanding is accomplished only by learning to observe oneself and others with whom you interact. You must observe the workings of your own mind. This requires dedicated mental labor.