Help Yourself: Finding Hope, Courage and Happiness by Dave Pelzer

by Nora Caterino

"Help Yourself: Finding Hope, Courage, and Happiness," is, as the title implies, a self-help book. But it is unlike most of this genre. Dave Pelzer, best known as author of 'A Boy Called 'IT', 'The Lost Boy', and 'A Man Named Dave' has published journals about his journey from a horrifically abusive childhood, through his escape into the foster care system and finally into a productive and content adulthood. That is why you may recognize Dave Pelzer's name.

The Boy Called 'IT' is about the events in Pelzer's life, when, at age four, he began to be abused so severely he was starved, held captive in a basement, subjected to noxious fumes from mixtures of ammonia and bleach, forced to hide the abuse for fear of retribution, all the while knowing his brothers were loved and treated well. His mother was obviously a victim of serious mental and emotional disorders. Yet, Pelzer survived and moved on to become a productive, reasonably happy citizen, helping other children overcome bad childhood events while working at a productive, satisfying career.

This fourth work by Pelzer is not the traditional self-help book that attempts to provide a "magic bullet". It does not attempt to tell you that you can help resolve your life issues by doing one simple thing and life will be grand. It walks you, in clear language that is easy to understand and relate to, through a series of practical and simple processes that will allow you to overcome life's adversities of any nature.

This book is not about child abuse. It is about the things that happen in life which happen to everyone. It is great for those who have experienced an abusive childhood. Yet, it is just as effective for someone that has experienced a divorce, lost a loved one, been bullied, been victimized of racism, lived in a violent neighborhood, has an overbearing boss, has previously abused drugs or alcohol, or experienced any other events that have made a person's life feel hopeless, fearful and unhappy.

Unlike many self-help works, this book is written on a level that anyone with an 7th or 8th grade reading ability can benefit from it. It applies just as well to the person with a rocket scientist mentality. There are few, if any, that won't relate to this document about how to overcome hardships of all types.

Chapter One, The Need to Free Yourself, applies to every person. Something in the past, no matter who you are or how fortunate you have been, has experienced events that caused reactions that carry over into other aspects of life. This portion of this self-help process talks about very real, very practical ways to become free of the baggage of the past. Can you name one person you know that really has no baggage from their past? I didn't think you could. Chapter Two, Living in a Negative Environment, follows the same sound and practical advice that applies to all people that have ever lived in a less than perfect situation – in other words, everyone.

Each chapter, discusses in a few very clear and concise manner the process to accomplish goals in that aspect of life, provides simple, one sentence overviews of the major self-help points covered in that chapter. These are presented in the form of facts, not 'how-to' steps. They are so simple that anyone can understand and implement them in their own lives.

Even if you think you've had a near-perfect life, you can benefit from this read. Containing only 218 pages, it doesn't take long to complete the initial reading process but you'll find you return again and again to specific points that apply to an event in life that causes you fear or pain.

If you know a young person that has been victimized by abuse, this would be a wonderful gift. If you have a friend that has experienced a tragic incident, give them this book. But more importantly, read this for your own edification and learn more about how to be truly happy, courageous and live without allowing fear or hopelessness to become a dominating factor in your life.

If you haven't read Pelzer's other books, you will certainly want to. You'll realize how difficult learning the facts presented in this fourth work really was for him. Many of us would have given up and chosen death. Pelzer, on the other hand, chose to overcome adversity.

A few words from the last paragraph of the book say it all: "I beg of you to take this with you always: Help Yourself…to a life you are not only capable of living, but one you are worthy of living." Learn how you can live that happy, productive life free from fear, hopelessness and unhappiness.