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Psychobabble summary

Stephen Briers

Exploding the Myths of the Self-Help Generation

3.2 (162 ratings)
23 mins

Brief summary

Psychobabble by Stephen Briers is a critical look at popular psychology. It offers a clear insight into the myths and misconceptions that are commonly found in self-help books and shows readers how to identify them.

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    Summary of 9 key ideas

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    Self-esteem is overrated.

    It seems obvious that self-esteem is critical for our happiness. After all, it’s good to feel good about ourselves, right? But how important is high self-esteem really? Is it an integral part of every successful and healthy person, as self-help books want you to believe?

    In pop psychology books, poor self-esteem is blamed for a whole slew of problems. For example, authors attribute underachievement at school or work to the student’s or employee’s underdeveloped belief in himself and his abilities.

    In the same vein, some popular self-help books link marital problems to one or more partners’ lack of self-respect.

    Many texts suggest that even school bullies resort to tyrannizing other kids and extorting their lunch money merely as a means to improve their own painfully low self-esteem. The assumption is that, by dominating their peers, bullies can enhance their own lack of self-worth.

    Yet for many behavioral problems, it turns out that self-esteem just isn’t an issue.

    For example, research has shown that there is no link between a teen’s self-esteem and problematic behaviors like stealing, excessive drinking and promiscuity.

    Going back to the playground, bullies have been shown to be even surer of themselves than their peers, rather than the pitiable, doubt-stricken souls we might otherwise imagine them to be.

    Moreover, neither a person’s job performance nor their relationship skills are affected by their level of self-esteem. Employees with a high self-esteem, for example, don’t necessarily outperform others in either their jobs or in laboratory tasks.

    What’s more, psychological programs that aim to boost students’ self-esteem do nothing to improve their performance in school. In fact, when struggling college students received messages intended to bolster their self-esteem, they actually did even worse in the exams that followed.

    It would seem that people with high self-esteem can have problems, too. If we’re interested at all in the taxonomy of our problems, then we’ll have to look for something better than the catch-all “self-esteem.”

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    What is Psychobabble about?

    Psychobabble explains how the self-help industry is misleading people, and why the human mind can't be swayed by catchy self-help mantras and lucid pop-psychology diagrams alone.

    Psychobabble Review

    Psychobabble (1995) by Stephen Briers explores the world of self-help psychology and explains why it often fails to deliver meaningful results. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It provides a refreshingly critical perspective on popular psychology trends, exposing their flaws and offering more practical alternatives.
    • Through thought-provoking insights, the book challenges common assumptions and encourages readers to think critically about their own psychological well-being.
    • With its engaging writing style and use of real-life examples, the book manages to make complex psychological concepts accessible and relevant to everyday life.

    Best quote from Psychobabble

    The degree to which we are affected and influenced by other people is actually quite terrifying.

    —Stephen Briers
    example alt text

    Who should read Psychobabble?

    • Anyone who reads self-help books but has not become a genius, a billionaire or even reasonably happy
    • Anyone interested in psychology
    • Anyone who feels overwhelmed by the constant pressure to improve themselves

    About the Author

    Dr. Stephen Briers is a clinical psychologist who has authored several best sellers, including Psychobabble, Superpowers for Parents and Brilliant CBT.

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    Psychobabble FAQs 

    What is the main message of Psychobabble?

    The main message of Psychobabble is to debunk popular psychology myths and provide practical solutions for everyday problems.

    How long does it take to read Psychobabble?

    The reading time for Psychobabble varies. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in a matter of minutes.

    Is Psychobabble a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Psychobabble is a worthwhile read as it exposes common misconceptions and offers actionable advice in a concise and accessible manner.

    Who is the author of Psychobabble?

    The author of Psychobabble is Stephen Briers.

    What to read after Psychobabble?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Psychobabble, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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