Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Dangers of the Secret

//static.flickr.com/1241/631400623_090f790850_mYou know me, I’m addicted to self-help books.

In theory, I agree with quite a bit of The Secret, but the criticism has merit.

Some medical professionals suggest it could even lead to a blame-the-victim mentality and actually be dangerous to those suffering from serious illness or mental disorders.

That’s my number one hatred of the whole "mind over matter" philosophy. There are just some things you can’t will away, and you can make yourself crazy trying.

I know from experience.

You can’t just will away every illness. Positive thinking is great and all that, but just think how guilty a sick person feels, how inadequate and how much of a failure they feel when they can’t will away their illness.

It can get worse.

Psychotherapist and lifestyle coach Stacy Kaiser said that after reading "The Secret," several patients have worried that it was their fault they were abused, or laid off from their jobs.


For example, the book dismisses conditions such as a genetic predisposition to being overweight or a slow thyroid as "disguises for thinking ’fat thoughts.’ " And during times in which massive number of lives were lost, the book says, the "frequency of their thoughts matched the frequency of the event."

Or even:

But she was especially upset about a portion of Byrne’s DVD in which a woman claims her breast cancer was cured without radiation or chemotherapy; the woman watched funny movies and had faith that she had already been healed.

I do believe in the power of positive thinking, and I do believe there is some merit in the law of attraction. Maybe some people are able to cure themselves with a special, mental talent.

I just believe we should be a little more careful about claiming The Secret to be the ultimate answer. And we definitely should be careful not to imply that if you can’t cure yourself or bad things have happened in life, you’re not doing it--whatever it may be--correctly.

5 bonus scribbles:

StarvingWriteNow 6/26/2007 01:42:00 PM  

I could go on for WEEKS about the evils of self-help books. No matter how encouraging they may seem, the plain fact is you're set up to fail. If the self-help doesn't work for you, it must be something YOU did wrong... therefore, on to the next self-help book. What a fricking racket.

For some extra fun, pick up SHAM by Steve Salerno at your local library. It exposes some interesting things about the self-help movement.

The Dark Scribe 6/26/2007 05:04:00 PM  

I'm with Starving...The Secret represents all that is wrong with our society. We don't want to take responsibility for our actions, and we all want an easy solution that requires no more work than simple thought. Wrong. Life is hard. Bad things happen.

But guess what? Good things happen, too. There's plenty of success, happiness and love if you're not too conceited to take a look around once in awhile.

The real problem is that The Secret is a self-fulfilling prophecy. So let's say you want a Lexus. You think happy thoughts about your elusive Lexus every day for a year. If you buy a Lexus, great--The Secret worked! It had nothing to do with some extra money you came into, or the fact that you picked up a second job, or any of the actual factors that contributed to getting a Lexus. But let's say you don't get a Lexus. Well, in that case, it was YOUR fault--you just didn't think enough positive thoughts. It's not that The Secret is flawed, it's that you didn't take it seriously enough.


Sorry for the rant. It just irks me that the self-help movement has done this for more than fifty years, and Americans can't stop getting smacked around. Same book, different title.

Not that it made much difference overall in sales, but I turned away as many people as possible looking to buy The Secret. I pretty much said, "I'll save you sixteen bucks: Think positive. That's it. That's all you need."

For what it's worth, I agree with you that for some people, these books are useful--I'm all for positive thinking, and if reading The Secret can deliver that, great.

spyscribbler 6/26/2007 07:32:00 PM  

I completely agree with both of you, though I do love self-help books. They can deliver hope when you can't find your way to seeing the silver lining.

But as you both said, you can't buy into the failure-downside.

My personal philosophy is to learn everything I can, and take everything with a grain of salt.

Tastes better that way, anyway!

Sparky Duck 6/29/2007 10:54:00 AM  

I agree, nothing wrong with positive thinking, it usually just makes you feel good.

But, to think if you think about a lobster dinner and someone will give you a lobster dinner is silly

writtenwyrdd 6/30/2007 03:46:00 PM  
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