It’s pretty hard to be a person in the modern world, and though you can mostly figure it out from The Good Place, people who need a little more guidance and/or suffer from inferior media taste often turn to the self-help section of their local big box bookstore. Just who are these people who claim to know the way, though? How can we trust that they know what they’re doing and have our best interests at heart? It turns out we can’t.

Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra

(Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)

Even if you keep an open mind about quantum meditation or whatever, you’re probably not aware of Chopra’s even wackier beliefs, like that AIDS patients only get sick because they think they will or cancer patients are dooming themselves if they don’t practice mindfulness alongside chemotherapy. (Tony Robbins has also dabbled in AIDS denialism, incidentally, in case he needed to be grosser.)

Rachel Hollis

There’s a lot to dislike about the author of Girl, Wash Your Face and Girl, Stop Apologizing, including those titles, but her scammiest scam was hosting expensive couples conferences even though her own marriage was falling apart. She and her husband charged couples $1,800 to fix their relationships long after, by their own admission, they began having problems despite the fact that their only qualification was their supposedly “exceptional” relationship. More like “girl, start apologizing,” right?

Dr. Phil

Dr. Phil

(Angela George/Wikimedia Commons)

It’s a good thing that, according to the California Board of Psychology, nothing on Dr. Phil’s show has anything to do with counseling because he hasn’t held a license to practice since 2006, which just happened to be two years after the executive director of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill called his conduct “incredibly irresponsible” and possibly criminal. Now, it’s just really bad advice.

Bikram Choudhury

Bikram Choudhury

(Ambermarquez31/Wikimedia Commons)

If you assume Bikram yoga (the kind where you make standing on one foot even harder by doing it in a sauna for some reason) could only be the product of a depraved mind, you’d be right. After being accused of running what amounts to a cult and sexually exploiting its members, Bikram Choudhury was forced to flee the country, though he somehow still teaches yoga instructors abroad.

Wayne Dyer

Wayne Dyer

(Phil Konstantin/Wikimedia Commons)

Dyer’s 1976 manual Your Erroneous Zones is one of the bestselling books of all time. It was also mostly cribbed from famed psychologist Albert Ellis’s practice of Rational Emotive Therapy, a fact Ellis pointed out to him a decade later. Ellis later said he was just happy his work was reaching so many people, though it might have been a different story if he’d actually needed the money.

M. Scott Peck

It’s not necessarily notable that M. Scott Peck had lifelong habits of drinking, drugs, and infidelity -- you can’t swing a dead cat in a bookstore without hitting an author in the same packed boat. But Peck’s bestseller, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth, was uniquely preachy even among self-help books on these very topics. One publisher even rejected it as “too Christ-y,” although to be fair, that guy did love him some wine.

Rhonda Byrne

The Secret

(Prime Time Productions/Wikimedia Commons)

The author of The Secret must have accidentally made a nice courtroom vision board because she’s nearly drowned herself in lawsuits. She reportedly burned a whole bunch of people who helped her produce her movie (the original documentary, not the weird Katie Holmes drama), but she was also accused of plagiarizing not one but two other books, apparently not without merit (though it’s possible it’s just not a very fresh idea). Here’s hoping she manifested herself some good lawyers.

Top image: Randy Stewart/Wikimedia Commons

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