I have and use both PS and PSP! I learned on paintshop, LOVE it. It took a few tuts to figure it out. It is very similar to PS, just cheaper!
I LOVE ps though too! PS, isn't too hard AFTER you understand the concept for each tool.
PSP, is my baby though, I can do anything so fast anymore. I used to do photo editing years ago, restoring old photos.
IF I were to suggest one over the other to a newbie, I would say PSP, cheaper and easier to learn.
There are a few FREE editing software out there, like piknic (not sure if that is spelled right) and gimp. You could try those out to get the feel of tools and concept for all the layering.