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Self-help has several common definitions:[1]

  • the act of an individual to provide for themselves without any outside assistance
  • the pursuit of knowledge to aid in assisting oneself
  • the body of media created by amateurs and professionals dedicated to facilitate the act (such as "self-help books")

Additionally, self-help is also an important legal concept:

Self-help, in the legal context, refers to obtaining relief or enforcing one's rights without going through legal processes, such as repossessing a car when payments are past due, retrieving borrowed or stolen goods, or demanding and receiving payment. Self-help is legal as long as it does not "disturb the peace" or violate some other law (as an example, "self-help evictions", whereby the landlord simply changes the locks and removes property without going through a court proceeding, are generally illegal on residential leases, but are legal on commercial leases).[2]

Self-help is a very strongly held conservative value. It is considered the responsibility of the individual to place personal effort and initiative for improvement above reliance on government or other compulsory programs.


  1. Collected definitions at
  2. USLegal Legal Definitions index