Save Me from Self Help


Before starting today’s blog, I made a list. It helped me think about what to write, and it reminded me that I, as have millions of Americans and many more around the world, at one time or another subscribed to and utilized “self-help” methods. I divided my list into decades—two decades at a time for brevity’s sake. The pile-up of all of these decades has changed my interest in and tolerance for alternative therapies. I guess one would expect that with excessive maturity.

Part 1. The Flailing Years.

My teenage years were spent learning to smoke weed and trying out hallucinogenics—you can probably guess which decade this was. I told myself that my use of available psychic drugs was to explore my shallow, immature self, as I strove to become like my new set of smart, interesting friends. I’m not sure it worked, but it was fun.

In my twenties, a most difficult age, I kept a journal in a series of spiral-bound notebooks. This explosion of emotion helped a great deal until my boyfriend read one of them and we had one of our “fights”. They stayed hidden from view after that.

After we broke up, I joined a consciousness-raising group. Women’s lib was sweeping through the U.S.. I became “woke” about not just my personality when it came to men, but the inequalities of women in general, and lived for many years after that feeling resentful of the male sense of privilege. I also became a vegetarian after reading Adele Davis and Frances Moore Lappé’s “Diet for a Small Planet”. 

Breaking into my thirties came along with a new decade and a new city. I got back to smoking weed and riding my Bianchi ten speed for miles. Not at the same time, of course. These activities brought me both angst and joy, respectively. This was the era of Joseph Campbell and Carl Sagan. Despite their absorbing books and TV shows, I couldn’t help but wish there was a female version of them. (That resentment again.) I started seeing a therapist for the first time. I went to group therapy and hated it.

When I passed forty, a new relationship and another new city brought my first sense of internal peace in many years. Age settles. It’s rarely a smooth ride, but discomfort and pleasure, you begin to realize, are essential needs for being human.

However, that doesn’t stop anyone, including me, to cease the search for that internal peace—especially now.

Part 2. The Search Goes On.

The next section of my list veered from self-consciousness scrutiny of the past to finding the latest methods for catching hold of internal peace. I stumbled onto some very interesting therapies, and typed them into my list as such:


Essential Oils. I don’t disagree with them, just how they are used. Many smell nice, but less is more in the case of aroma therapy.

Bee venom. This painful, and probably lethal (for the bees) therapy is meant to give relief from a variety ailments, as did snake oil in the nineteenth century.

Keto. Another resurrected fad diet with a tony new name. Used to be called the high protein diet, an earlier fad from the 1960’s.

Ayahuasca. Been there. Done that. But at least I never got violently ill.

Fasting. This is just stupid. And dangerous.

Green Tea. Doesn’t taste that good and too much of it doesn’t so much fill you with anti-oxidents as trigger a caffeine over-dose.

Group Therapy. Been there. The one I was in basically turned into a hook-up circle.


OrgonomyThis is a weird one. A German psychoanalyst studying with Freud in Vienna took Freud’s idea of sexual frustration leading to neurosis a step further, by building and selling what he called “orgone accumulators” he purported would provide a release from sexual tension. Read more about this and his other inventions here. Wilhelm Reich. I like a good orgasm as much as any woman, but it doesn’t seem fair to besmirch this fabulous event by turning it into therapy.


Acupuncture. Clinical trials can’t be denied.

Ear candling. Relaxing. For anyone with chronic ear and sinus issues, seems quite useful.

A good back scratch. Ahhhhhhh. I’ll go to sleep now.



About Jill Zeller

Author of numerous novels and short stories, Jill Zeller is a Left Coast writer, 2nd generation Californian, retired registered nurse, and obsessed gardener. She lives in Oregon with her patient husband, 2 silly English mastiffs and 2 rescue cats—the silliest of all. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination are as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison


Save Me from Self Help — 8 Comments

  1. Oddly enough, my husband’s grandmother was in therapy with Wilhelm Reich, which led to my mother-in-law working for him. When she met my father-in-law and they got married, Reich resented his “hold” on his new wife, who gradually began to be less a part of Reich’s personal cult and more, like, a woman with outside interests and a husband. This led to M-i-L being banished from Reich’s employment and his circle, and, for a time, to Reich pressuring her mother to cut her daughter out of her life.

    PS: it all turned out okay. But… yeah, no Orgone Boxes.

  2. Hi –
    I’m an old guy (83) and while cruising along through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s – and a bit into the 90’s, I tried on most of the alternative stuff and ideas floating around during that time – mostly ‘looking for my true, inner self’ and ‘my life’s purpose’. It was exhausting. And at times, expensive (‘Huna training’ in Hawaii – twice a year!!). Finally gave up the quest, relaxed and settled on my ‘true self’ as being just me and ‘my purpose’ as just being who I am.

  3. I’d never heard of ear candling; lookinf it up, it does not appear to work as advertised, and does risk getting hot wax in your ear – it seems more likely to cause earplugs than to resolve them.

    • I had never heard of it either, and never tried it. but it sounded so weird I had to include it!