The Latest Self-Help Advice? “F*ck Feelings” | Acculturated


Old Stoic psychology can be a good thing — Saint Paul probably was influenced by it — and in that vein here’s a contemporary, popular book, reviewed by Acculturated:

A new book called F*ck Feelings is, well, all the rage.

On its face, the volume cries out for disdain…. The genre—self-help—practically invites ridicule. And the bloated text, which oscillates between tough love and outright fatalism, could be boiled down to Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

There just isn’t much original material here. Are you wondering if a problem is not what happens, but your reaction to it? Marcus Aurelius got there first: “If you are distressed by anything external,” he observed, “the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

If the issue is a false perception of reality—and isn’t that so often a plausible diagnosis?—well, this news was delivered in the middle of the last century by Albert Ellis, who emphasized unrealistic thinking when he pioneered cognitive behavioral therapy…. Ellis in turn got the news from Socrates, who found ignorance (and perhaps worse yet, ignorance of one’s own ignorance) to be at the bottom of various ills. People did bad things out of ignorance about what is good, for instance, or succumbed to cowardice due to ignorance about the nature of death.

Yet lots of people who never got the memo from Socrates or Ellis can still benefit from this message, and that is where a book like F*ck Feelings establishes its usefulness. Why sneer? It should be clear by now that self-help books aren’t necessarily bad; they aren’t even new. Ben Franklin, Samuel Smiles, and Arnold Bennett wrote interesting self-help manuals long before any of us were born.

Read the rest of this review: The Latest Self-Help Advice? “F*ck Feelings” | Acculturated

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