Sunday, October 11, 2009

What Doesn't Kill You . . .

Here at Self-Help, Inc. we normally think of the dangers of self-improvement culture as being those of over-promising and under-delivering. Self-help literature promises its takers the world, and when it doesn't deliver, lays the blame at their feet.

Sadly, self-help guru and Secret co-author James Arthur Ray's "Spiritual Warrior" program delivered: It promised that participants, many of whom paid more than $9,000 to attend, would have their lives changed forever. Indeed.

Two are dead, one is in critical condition, and eighteen others are hospitalized after a "sweat lodge" ritual went awry.

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once quipped that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. The problem: some things simply kill you.

Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased, 38-year-old Kirby Brown of Westtown, New York, and 40-year-old James Shore of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and with the other eighteen victims.

(Editorial note: This post originally contained a link to an ABC news story on the sweat lodge events, but that footage has been removed by YouTube, so we've substituted the New York Times print coverage. Also, this post notes that two died, but a third victim subsequently passed away.)