Steve Salerno

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Author Steve Salerno Photo from author blog, used with permission.[1]

Steve Salerno is an American nonfiction author, essayist and educator best known for his 2005 critique of the self-help movement, SHAM: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless. The book received a mostly enthusiastic critical reception,[2][3] though some reviewers accused Salerno of overreach[4] in his analysis of self-help's broader effects in society. In the book, Salerno argues that far from being merely an innocuous fad, self-help in recent decades has done significant damage to the American social fabric.[5][6] Salerno ties that damage principally to self-esteem based education[7] and the fallout from the two polar schools of self-help thoughts, Victimization and Empowerment. He is highly critical of Alcoholics Anonymous and derivative 12-step programs. He has also described the self-help movement's intrusion into politics.[8][9] He and ABC's Dan Harris developed an hour-long PrimeTime special[10] on the sweat lodge deaths caused by guru James Arthur Ray.[11][12]

In the book, Salerno discusses Tony Robbins, Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura and a number of the other visible leaders of the personal-growth movement. He also explains Oprah Winfrey's role as a seminal figure in the movement. In the intervening years, Salerno has written numerous essays and reported pieces that followed the careers of major gurus after the book's publication and tracked their wider influence in American life in terms of politics,[13] medicine[14][15][16] and other areas.[17] He is particularly notable for his work debunking the 2007 blockbuster book and DVD The Secret.[18][19][20]

Other works[edit]

Salerno's 1987 book, Deadly Blessing, chronicled the life and untimely death of Texas favorite son Price Daniel Jr. The book became the Warner Bros. TV movie Bed of Lies,[21] starring Susan Dey and Chris Cooper. His first book, The Newest Profession (1985), described the spread of high-powered sales techniques throughout society.

As an essayist, Salerno specializes in long-form personal experience pieces, like this piece on his lifelong obsession with the batting cages.[22] In recent years Salerno has also emerged as a leading critic of political correctness and academic policies on same, writing variously for the Wall Street Journal,[23] Quillette,[24] USA Today[25] and other publications.

Academic career[edit]

Salerno has taught journalism at several U.S. colleges, including Indiana University, Lehigh University, and currently at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).[26] He also spent a year as writer-in-residence at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.[27]


  1. ^ "S H A M b l o g". Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  2. ^ "Nonfiction Book Review: SHAM: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless by Steven Salerno, Author . Crown $24.95 (273p) ISBN 978-1-4000-5409-1". Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  3. ^ Shermer, Michael (May 2006). "SHAM Scam". Scientific American. 294 (5): 30–30. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0506-30. ISSN 0036-8733.
  4. ^ "Paul Ruschmann reviews SHAM: How the Self-Help Movement Has Made America Helpless, by Steve Salerno". Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  5. ^ Salerno, Steve (2009-10-23). "Self-Help Doesn't Help—And Often Hurts". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  6. ^ "We Are the Champions". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  7. ^ "Salerno: American higher education is sliding lower and lower". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  8. ^ "The trouble with Oprah is the trouble with Trump". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  9. ^ "Steve Salerno: Tony Robbins, Donald Trump and self-help nation". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  10. ^ News, A. B. C. (2010-06-29). "Self-Help Takes a Look in the Mirror". ABC News. Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  11. ^ Salerno, Steve (2016-12-01). "Like It Never Even Happened". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  12. ^ Salerno, Steve (2009-10-23). "Self-Help Doesn't Help—And Often Hurts". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  13. ^ Salerno, Steve. "Tony Robbins, Donald Trump and the continuing self-delusion of our self-help nation - NY Daily News". Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  14. ^ Salerno, Steve (2008-12-27). "The Touch That Doesn't Heal". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  15. ^ Salerno, Steve. "Emmys, don't be led down Dr. Oz's yellow brick road: Oprah's favorite doctor promotes quackery - NY Daily News". Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  16. ^ Salerno, Steve (2018-04-20). "In the War on Cancer, Truth Becomes a Casualty". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  17. ^ Salerno, Steve. "Please, give up your dreams - NY Daily News". Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  18. ^ "The Secret of The Secret's SuccessThe American Spectator". Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  19. ^ Salerno, Steve (2009-05-01). "If I Don't See It, It's Not There". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  20. ^ "09-04-15". Skeptic. 2009-04-15. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  21. ^ Margarita Dou (2016-11-28), Based On A True Story ♥ Bed of Lies 1992 Susan Dey ♥ Lifetime Movies 2016, retrieved 2018-04-19
  22. ^ "The Feel Of Nothing: A Life In America's Batting Cages". Longreads. 2014-03-05. Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  23. ^ Salerno, Steve (2018-01-03). "'White-Informed Civility' Is the Latest Target in the Campus Wars". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-06-07.
  24. ^ "Is There Room in Diversity For White People? - Quillette". Quillette. 2018-05-10. Retrieved 2018-06-07.
  25. ^ "Pride is Prejudice: Column". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-06-07.
  26. ^ "UNLV Steve Salerno". Background. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  27. ^ "In Real Life: Writer-in-Hesitance - AEI". AEI. Retrieved 2018-10-05.