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May 5, 1989

Proliferating 'Self-Help' Groups Offer Wide Range of Support, Seek Physician Rapport

JAMA. 1989;261(17):2474-2475. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420170014003

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IN A SOCIETY where public figures routinely reveal the most intimate details of their physical and mental ills, usually in the expressed hope that "knowing about my experience will help others," it's perhaps not surprising that a grass-roots mutual aid or so-called self-help movement has sprung up in the United States that, its supporters say, has 10 to 15 million participants and potentially embraces a half million groups.

According to Daryl H. Isenberg, PhD, director of the Illinois Self-Help Center in Evanston, "Self-help groups have proliferated in the United States in the last 2 decades. The bonds that form in them help people bear the unbearable." Established in 1974 by Leonard Borman, PhD, a revered name in the movement, this was the first US center to address self-help exclusively.

Sharing stories and finding they're not alone with their problem—whether it be alcoholism or cancer or another chronic illness, or a