Publicly I was the poster child for the well-balanced, successful freelancer. Privately I was unraveling. Writing a book about creating a self-styled career you love had led me straight to a job I hated. I was supposed to be this emissary of work-life balance, the queen of controlling one’s career destiny. Yet Sunday evenings now gave me the same fetal-position dread my book claimed to help readers avoid. I’d gone to the hospital with chest pains in my thirties, for chrissake, racking up $4,000 in out-of-pocket expenses in the process.
The self-help world has become the target of parodies . Walker Percy 's odd genre-busting Lost in the Cosmos  has been described as "a parody of self-help books, a philosophy textbook, and a collection of short stories, quizzes, diagrams, thought experiments, mathematical formulas, made-up dialogue".  In their 2006 book Secrets of The Superoptimist , authors . Morton and Nathanel Whitten revealed the concept of "superoptimism" as a humorous antidote to the overblown self-help book category. In his comedy special Complaints and Grievances (2001), George Carlin observes that there is "no such thing" as self-help: anyone looking for help from someone else does not technically get "self" help; and one who accomplishes something without help, did not need help to begin with.  In Margaret Atwood 's semi-satiric dystopia Oryx and Crake , university literary studies have declined to the point that the protagonist, Snowman, is instructed to write his thesis on self-help books as literature; more revealing of the authors and of the society that produced them than genuinely helpful.