The other result of the loss of ‘Weber‘s “traditional behavior…everyday action to which people have become habitually accustomed”‘ is an increased social pressure for Self-fashioning: ‘while one’s identity might have been formerly anchored in (and limited by) a community…the self-creating self must create a written narrative of his or her life’. self-help books ‘written and read for the purpose of helping people build a personal philosophy’ contribute to that end.
The danger may arise however of an overestimation of the possibilities of change, given that ‘we do not in any meaningful sense intend or choose our birth, our parents, our bodies, our language, our culture, our thoughts, our dreams, our desires, our death, and so on’. The ‘Twelve-step “Traditions”…have fostered a notion of individual self-mastery or self-control as limited…use of the Serenity Prayer encourages individuals to accept what they cannot change, to find courage to change what they can change, and to seek wisdom in discerning the difference’. Self-help books will indeed often acknowledge formally that ‘this book does not replace the need for therapy and counselling for troubled relationships or survivors of a Dysfunctional family‘. In practice however, fuelled by competitive advertising, often ‘such books hold out to the reader the promise of a virtually “instantaneous” transformation’; and there ensues something of a ‘built-in contradiction of the celebratory arc of the self-help book combined with the stubborn realities’ of the human world.