I am an enormous fan of self help books. Indeed, I am obsessed with them, and have spent some time researching their history and evolution. So acute is my obsession with Self Help literature that I plan to do my PhD on it! I normally have one or two books that I am obsessed with - at the moment it is Jack Canfield's How To Get From Where You Are To Where You Want To Be, and I am listening to the abridged CD of Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway. These are the current two texts that are guiding my life!
I came to Self Help from being a complete skeptic. When I was younger, to merely possess a self help book was sufficient to incur my loathing and withering contempt. Now I can't live without them.
Do they work? Hard to say, but I do know that I have moved from being a very angry and depressed person in my youth to a somewhat happier and more content soul. I have also reached a couple of goals that I formulated directly as a result of reading a self help book. On the other hand, I'm still overweight, and I must have read a million books that were meant to cure me of that!
Another thing occurs to me. The whole self-help movement was an outcome of the social concerns of liberal Christians (particularly Unitarians) in England and America in the 19th Century. I find it interesting that conservative Christians now either embrace the genre and try to manipulate it to suit their own ends, or else they are highly critical of it and its proponents.