Document Type


Associated Faculty

Nathan Stormer

Sponsoring Academic Department

McGillicuddy Humanities Center

Publication Date

Summer 7-13-2022

Abstract/ Summary

Over the past several years, the self-help industry has become increasingly more successful and sought out; especially in the United States, whose modern society celebrates individualism and self-improvement. However, within this new and unregulated field lie several unknowns and invisible dangers. Multiple instances involving popular and beloved gurus have ended in tragedy, twisting cases of self-help into self-harm. This paper chases after just how this is possible and discovers that weaponized communication is largely to blame.

From Self-Help to Self-Harm: Rhetoric in the Self-Help Industry discusses the cases of James Arthur Ray, Keith Raniere, and Isaac Hershkopf to uncover how inappropriate rhetoric usage can turn something enlightening into something drastically harmful. Demagoguery, along with weaponized and exhaustive rhetoric, are concepts used to explain how this is possible. Using a mix of creative writing and scholarly research, this paper will illustrate some of the major threats that lie in influential communication, in light of self-help’s current popularity today.


post-print (i.e. final draft post-refereeing with all author corrections and edits)

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License



Rights Statement

Copyright Not Evaluated