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Is the self-help industry really making anybody happier?

Happiness is a multi-million pound industry: advice on how to change our lives for the better bombards us from every bookstore, magazine rack and TV channel; countless gurus all promise to help us become richer, more successful, more popular and more productive. It's easy to become cynical. But how do you sort the good ideas from the bad ones? How do you know what works and what doesn't?

Here, we bring together some of the most influential names from the self-help industry, along with some of its most vocal critics, to debate well-being and whether the happiness business is really helping.

Confirmed Participants:

Alain de Botton is author of numerous works of non-fiction, including the best-selling How Proust Can Change Your Life (1997), an intriguing and original view of the French novelist's life, work and influence that is at once an unlikely self-help guide and an introduction to one of the twentieth-century's greatest writers.

Oliver Burkeman is author of Help!, a witty and clear-headed exploration of the self-help industry, based on "This Column Will Change Your Life", his popular weekly psychology column in the Guardian.

Frank Furedi is Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent. He is author of numerous books, including Paranoid Parenting, Culture of Fear and Therapy Culture: Cultivating Vulnerability In An Certain Age. He is currently writing a new book on Scaremongering, which studies the role of competing groups – politicians, the media, advocacy organisations, business – in the controversies that surround health, food, technology, terrorism and disasters.

Nic Marks is a recognised expert in the field of well-being research and undertakes innovative research in the use of well-being indicators in public policy environments. Amongst other things, Nic founded nef's award-winning Centre for Well-being and has led the well-being programme at nef since 2001.

Philippa Perry is a psychotherapist, psychotherapy supervisor and a fine art graduate living and practising in London. She is author of Couch Fiction: A Graphic Tale of Psychotherapy, a compelling case study in the form a graphic novel which vividly explores a year's therapy sessions as a search for understanding and truth. She is married to artist, Grayson Perry.

Robert Rowland Smith spent the first part of his career as a Prize Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and the second as a partner in a leading firm of management consultants. He now divides his time between writing and consulting independently. His new book is called Driving with Plato.

Mark Vernon used to be a priest in the Church of England and is now a writer, pursuing the ancient philosophers' great question, how to live? His books cover subjects from friendship and belief, to wellbeing and meaning. His new book is called The Good Life: 30 Steps for Perfecting The Art of Life.

Richard Wiseman is based at the University of Hertfordshire, and has gained an international reputation for research into quirky areas of psychology, including deception, humour, luck and the paranormal. He is author three best-selling books. The Luck Factor explores the lives and minds of lucky people, Quirkology examines the curious science of everyday life, and 59 Seconds investigates the science of self-help and rapid change.

Further participants to be announced shortly.

Presented in association with Canongate and Psychologies Magazine

Official Website: http://www.theschooloflife.com/Events/Self-Help-Summit_2

Added by canongatebooks on December 9, 2010

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