Registered Senior Member
Self-help books and the herd.
When a society is in decline, people need help. In our case, this has meant a big demand for self-help books, books on how to cope, on how to restore a positive outlook, or how to improve the self and function better with others. They provide short-lived support and a temporarily good feeling. The reader reads in with great hope and enthusiasm, but only to realize, subliminally, that not only does it fail to change society (the people the reader comes in contact with) but the reader his or herself as well. Both society and the individual are products not of self-help books but of social evolutionary processes. Through millions of years of evolution, we evolved to be in hunting/gathering groups. Over the centuries, the ideological or religious bond of a society divides and sub-divides, growing ever less able to substitute for the hunting-gathering size group. We are not a herd animal. We are ill at ease in such large groups or societies and need a strong ideology in common to make us feel “one” with the group or society. In nature, animals that evolved to live in small groups like we, re-divide into smaller groups again when their group becomes too large.
We do that also. When society is divided ideologically, the bonding power weakens. People compensate by forming small groups along ethnic, racial, lingual lines or form single-purpose groups, but neither the divided religion-bonded society or the groups it divides into substitute well enough to provide the same closeness and sense of security and well-being that we evolved to feel in the hunting-gathering group. When the over-all religiously-bonded society weakens from division, the smaller groups people divide into compete ever more ruthlessly and at society's expense. They become stronger as society grows weaker.
The reading of self-help books does not change that.