Optimizing the Self: Social representations of self-help, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Optimizing the Self

Social representations of self-help, 1st Edition

By Ole Jacob Madsen


188 pages

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This book provides an analysis of the social representations of leading self-help genres, including neurolinguistic programming, cognitive self-help therapy, mindfulness, self-management, self-esteem, self-leadership and self-control. Exploring the globalised therapeutic culture of today, the book argues that psychology as ‘science’ is often abandoned to aid the individual pursuit for self-realization and self-optimization. Opposing the view that self-help culture is external to psychology, Madsen argues that it is firmly embedded within psychology, playing an important role in people’s lives.

Each chapter traces and critically interprets a range of self-help philosophies and techniques, examining the claims of self-help literature to represent the most innovative psychological, medical or neurobiological research. Discussing each genre in turn, chapters examine key research alongside self-help literature to explore the effectiveness and impact of leading self-help genres in various social contexts and environments. The book offers a contemporary critical overview of issues concerning self-help, combining critical psychology with the theory of social representation to provide a broad perspective on self-help as a valid psychology.

Optimizing the Self will be of interest to academics, researchers and postgraduate students in the fieldsof social representation, critical and cultural psychology and theory, clinical psychology, and the sociology of culture and science. The book will also be of use to critical and cultural psychologists and theorists, as well as clinical psychologists.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Cognitive Science 3. Mindfulness 4. Self-leadership 5. Self-esteem 6. Self-control 7. Conclusion

About the Author

Ole Jacob Madsen is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Norway.

About the Series

Cultural Dynamics of Social Representation

The series Cultural Dynamics of Social Representation is dedicated to bringing the scholarly reader new ways of representing human lives in the contemporary social sciences. It is a part of a new direction – cultural psychology – that has emerged at the intersection of developmental, dynamic and social psychologies, anthropology, education, and sociology. It aims to provide cutting-edge examinations of global social processes, which for every country are becoming increasingly multi-cultural. Therefore, social sciences need new ways of considering how to study human lives in their globalizing contexts. The focus of this series is the social representation of people, communities, and – last but not least – the social sciences themselves.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Social Psychology