June 20, 2011

Downwardly Mobile

In his debut novel How to Fail, self-helplessness expert Aaron Goldfarb insists that the potential for disappointment lives inside all of us.

Adam Rosen

Let me begin with a true story: in 2008, Americans spent $11 billion on self-help. DVDs and seminars now make up a considerable slice of the "hope industry's" Splenda-sweetened pie, but the original medium is, of course, the book. And not just the Good one: recent bestsellers include works such as The Highly Sensitive Person, Frumpy to Fabulous, and It's Never Crowded Along the Extra Mile. A million back-pats wide and a solitary tear deep, what was once the dominion of Norman Vincent Peale, Richard Nelson Bolles, and other three-named Midwesterners has been relinquished to any eccentric in wacky glasses. None of this is to diminish the problems of the more sensitive among us—heck, I sniffed at picture of a frolicking Australian Shepherd just last week—but rather to merely point out the apparent national deficit of unstoppable confidence. We are, to put it in Scientological terms, off the E-Meter.

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Article by Adam Rosen

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