The Atlantic

Tony Robbins, #MeToo, and the Limits of Self-Help

The secular guru has preached a gospel of individual solutions to individual problems. But when it comes to sexual abuse, as to so much else: It’s not enough.
Source: Frederick M. Brown / Getty

“Problems are what sculpt our soul. Problems are what make us become more. If we can realize that life is always happening for us, not to us: game over. All the pain and suffering disappears.”

It was 2014, and Tony Robbins was speaking—really, he was preaching—to a rapturous crowd during one of his many spectacular live events: a “Date With Destiny” seminar in Boca Raton, Florida. Robbins was soothing. Robbins was seducing. Robbins, above all, was selling: Part pitchman, part guru, the products he markets include, first and foremost, himself and his own story of determinedly thwarted adversity. He has suffered, Robbins reminds his legions of fans; he has triumphed; he is his own best evidence. He is the secular miracle they are seeking for their own lives. Look upon my works, ye mighty, and repair.

Robbins’s events, accordingly—the performed and interactive versions of —often read as what might happen were to expand its effortsmade steadily more perfect through deep determination and searing self-examination and .

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