Selfishness Matters

A book by Theo Selles, M.Sc.

Warning: Some readers may find some of the material offensive. The author hopes so.
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Selfishness Matters is a self help book even a man would read; a well overdue parody of the self-help industry.
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January 26, 2011, The Burlington Post, "Therapist-turned-author parodies TV's self-help gurus."


Theo Selles doesn't subscribe to much of the advice offered by those who fill the airwaves with their opinions on how to live a better life.

Show after show after show, the blathering talking heads urge their listeners and viewers to love themselves more, to make more time for themselves and make their needs a priority -- suggestions the Prince Albert, Ont. man is tired of hearing.

The problems of the populace are no secret to Selles. He's been a registered family therapist for nearly 20 years, listening to the struggles of families and individuals. Over that time, he's come to detest the likes of self-help gurus such as Dr. Phil McGraw and Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who espouse no-nonsense advice by encouraging people to "get real" and look inwardly to solve all their woes.

"They're inflated windbags who bully people," said Selles, 47. "They over-simplify complex issues and bully people and pander to their base emotions. They're taking people's lives and making entertainment out of it and their arrogance shines right through."

Instead, he argues, people should stop spending so much time dwelling on themselves and instead look to see how they can make other people in their lives happy.

"Get out of your own world, it's not useful to talk a lot about our needs and desires and wants," said Selles. "We certainly love the idea of loving ourselves. We have an obsession with ourselves."

The therapist-turned-author hopes to get his point across to the public through his latest project: Selfishness Matters, a humourous book that pokes fun at the self-help industry, in particular one character Selles refers to as 'The Big Fill'.

"For years now, in the back of my head, I've wanted to lampoon people who take themselves seriously, who are too self-indulgent," said Selles, who finished penning his parody last October.

"It's the project I always said I wanted to do, and it got to the point where it was just itching to come out."

It appears that Selles held little back in his mockery of the self-help world. Throughout the nearly 200-page book he sprinkles tidbits of advice, 'The Big Fill' style, while tackling a variety of common quandaries: relationships, children and self-esteem. The cover of Selles's book also parodies a self-help manual authored by Dr. Phil McGraw -- although Selles will never willingly acknowledge that.

There is a serious side to the author. He takes the job of bettering people's lives sincerely, but encourages those who do seek help to do the work themselves.

"I don't think there is anything wrong with people looking for guidance. But it's easy enough to turn on the TV and learn how to live your life and think that's enough. It's a short cut," he stressed. "Instead of buying into self, self, self, self, self, why don't you try to get better at loving and understanding others?"

The bottom line of the book, continued Selles, is to provide readers with a good laugh -- and outrageously antagonize them at the same time -- while trying to make a point about the self-help industry.

"I'm trying to offend everyone with this book. It's easily the most important book ever written," he said.

Selfishness Matters: How to live your life completely right, getting what you want without having to care, is available online at for $19.99.

A Burlington book signing takes place this Friday (Jan. 28), between 7-9 p.m. at A Different Drummer Books, 523 Locust St.

This article appeared in The Burlington Post and can be found at

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