Is self-help industry effective?


The effectiveness of the self-help industry is nuanced and can vary significantly based on the approach and the consumer's awareness.

Critiques of the Self-Help Industry

  1. Benefiting Experts Over Consumers: Jordan Harbinger and Gabriel Mizrahi highlight the potential for self-help experts to benefit disproportionately compared to consumers. They refer to "emotional extortion," where individuals are made to feel inadequate to drive sales of self-help products and services 1 2.

  2. Distinguishing Fluff from Useful Content: Harbinger suggests looking for practical advice backed by science rather than feel-good fluff. Effective self-help should provide actionable steps that can be applied in daily life rather than vague affirmations or motivational sayings 3.

    The Self-Help Industry

    Gabriel and Jordan discuss the benefits of the self-help industry and how it can become problematic when the self-help expert benefits more than the consumer in a disproportionate way. They liken it to emotional extortion and warn against falling prey to corrupt deals.

    The Jordan Harbinger Show

    160: Why Does Self-Help Make You Feel Terrible? | Deep Dive
  3. Responsibility of Consumers: Consumers need to be discerning and recognize exploitive patterns within the self-help industry. The industry often profits more from keeping individuals feeling inadequate and continuously seeking help 4.

  4. Blurring Lines with Cult-Like Behavior: Some self-help groups or practices can veer into cult-like territory, exploiting vulnerable individuals. The emphasis should be on discernment and seeking legitimate, qualified help rather than overly commercialized programs 2.

Positive Aspects

  1. Targeted Help for Specific Demographics: Mark Manson highlights the importance of making self-help appealing and relevant for young men to steer them away from potentially harmful influences like pickup artists or toxic masculinity figures 5.

  2. Addressing Practical Issues: Useful self-help can provide real-world techniques for improving various aspects of life, such as social skills, career development, and personal growth, offering tangible benefits in these areas.


The self-help industry can be effective if it focuses on offering practical, evidence-based advice and helps individuals make genuine improvements. However, consumers must be cautious and critical, ensuring they are not exploited by those who might prioritize profit over genuine improvement 1 3 4.