MELODY BEATTIE: Taking Care of Herself

Self-help is a philosophy, says MELODY BEATTIE, and her best-selling books carry the word to a tidal wave of followers

The rustic lodge on Gull Lake in pristine northern Minnesota hums with singsong, flat-voweled excitement. The 500 sensibly dressed welfare workers in the convention crowd usually dish out encouragement for a living. But today they will be on the receiving end from a former recipient who managed to get herself off welfare and onto the best-seller list. Here she is, flashing her big white smile: Melody Beattie, queen of codependency.

The petite, elegantly dressed woman warms up with jokes about sticky food stamps and useless powdered milk and reminds her listeners of the familiar line that "a woman is one man...

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