Books have been some of my closest friends and most influential mentors. My life has been changed more than a few times by a good book. Since I can remember, I’ve wanted to write a book. It was when I read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, that I felt I was ready to try. It has been a little over a year since reading her magical book, and I am in the midsts of writing mine.
While researching for the book, I discovered a word that embodied what books have been doing for me all my life, especially Cameron’s work; bibliotherapy. Wiki tells me it is the oldest library motto in history. It was etched above an Egyptian library during Ramses II’s reign. It means, “the house that heals the soul.” In modern times, it is the name given to the phenomenon that some self-help books can be as effective as a full course of psychotherapy or taking the most effective antidepressant drugs.
Dr. Forest Scogin of the University of Alabama has published 5 studies testing the effects of self-help books. These studies have been published in the peer-reviewed journals The Gerontologist and the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. He has concluded that a good self-help book (specifically Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns), can be as effective as a full course of psychotherapy or using the most effective drug.
Dr. Burns’s Feeling Good is a 600 page introduction to Cognitive Therapy. The book is easy to read and understand and is full of homework and techniques the reader can do that Burns has used in his clinical practice. His book is the most referred supplemental book therapists recommend their patients.
This is a huge deal to me. It is a proof of concept. If a book is created well enough, it can improve the life of the reader to the same degree as our most effective healing modalities. I take it as a personal goal to create a book that will be found effective in this bibliotherapy domain after being tested in scientifically rigorous experiments.
My Possible Contribution
David Burn’s Feeling Good has been found to be the most effective self-help book reviewed in these studies. I’ve read his book and it is a masterpiece, but I think it can be improved. Not the content, but the structure. I study habit psychology, and I know that his amazing ideas can be restructured in a way where more people who read it will do the exercises, and thus benefit from his wisdom. Cognitive Therapy is the philosopher’s stone in our depressed age. I want to apply modern habit psychology to help the average reader digest and integrate these teachings into their lives.