The $12 billion self-help industry is under constant attack for pedaling false miracles to duped believers. But sociologist Albert Amao demonstrates that Americans eagerly support self-help books, seminars, and programs because, under the right conditions, these things work. Sociologist Albert Amao analyzes the accuracy of self-help and positive-thinking claims in this groundbreaking--and wholly unexpected--exploration of what works, what doesn't, and why. "Regarding my personal experience,"
Amao writes, "I can testify that positive thinking and positive action have worked wonderfully for me. Born in a poor Latin-American country into a very impoverished family with both parents practically illiterate, I was the oldest of five children. I started working when I was six years old, shining shoes and selling newspapers to help my family. Nobody then would have believed that I would be able to finish high school. Nevertheless, I was able to do it going to night school, which allowed me to be admitted at the San Marcos University in Lima to get my Ph.D. in sociology. All these things were possible because, when I was teenager, I had access to New Thought," or positive-thinking philosophy. Contrary to the critics who blithely dismiss self-help methods, or the New Age gurus who sell it them as miracles, Amao--writing with sobriety, scholarship, and drawing on deep personal experience--explores the conditions under which self-help is authentic.