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Pan Macmillan

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Launch: Self-Helpless by Rebecca Davis (19 September)

Everywhere she looked, the world was in poor shape. And because she’d quit drinking, she no longer had the comfort blanket of alcohol to tamp down her anxiety. How did sober people stay sane?

In recent times, the self-help industry has exploded into a multi- billion dollar global industry – and along with it has come every imaginable type of therapy, healing or general woo-woo. In the past, Rebecca scoffed at this industry, mocking its reliance on half-baked science and the way it appears to prey on the mentally fragile.

But as she searched for a meaning of life that did not involve booze, she found it increasingly hard to rationalize her default scepticism. This shit really seems to work for some people, she reasoned. And it’s not like I have any particularly solid alternatives.

Rebecca lives in Cape Town, the undisputed epicentre of ‘alternative’ paths to peace and enlightenment in South Africa. She decided that over the course of a year, she would embark on a quest for personal wellness, spiritual enlightenment and good old-fashioned happiness. She was willing, within reason, to try anything. She would open herself to even the most outlandish contemporary fads in self- improvement.

What followed was a twelve-month immersion in the world of auras, chakras, hallucinogenic drugs, sweat lodges, sangomas, past lives and more.

And by the end of it? Maybe she would find some new ways of thinking and living. Or maybe she would emerge with her prejudices untouched.

Either way, it would be a good story.

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