Aug 28, 2008, 10:11AM

Get Some Help

If self-help is 21st century religion then Paul Damien wants to be Martin Luther. A business professor who specializes in marketing, Damien has a new book out that eviscerates the methodology of self-help as modern day charlatanism. Promising improvement with lofty mythology instead of hard work is so last century.

He suggests that you start by making an outlandish claim (path to immortality, secret of the universe, shoot lightning from your hand) then master the linguistic gibber of the guru: Searching for the selfless self and the egoless "I" will align your energy with the wave function of your chakra, and lightning will spring from your hands. Oh, and if it doesn't, you did something wrong.

Damien's new book, "Help!," is a blistering indictment of modern guruism. He dissects the arguments of several best-selling self-help authors, including Deepak Chopra, Rhonda Byrne and Fritjof Capra, accusing them of preying on people's fears for personal profit. Damien's tone is lighthearted and humorous as he dismantles the techniques used by these self-proclaimed gurus.

The idea for "Help!" began when Damien read some self-help books to contrast them with theology.

"I read quite a few of them, and my initial disbelief turned to a burning desire to discredit and disprove these people," Damien said. "I felt that debunking the self-help book is itself a form of self-help."


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