The Secret: Is It the Real Deal?


Imagine if all successful people knew something that you didn’t — something that enabled them to amass tremendous amounts of riches and live long, healthy, happy, and potentially disease-free lives.

Well, they just might, according to a hot new self-help book and a documentary DVD aptly titled The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. The Secret boasts a growing list of disciples including talk show host Oprah Winfrey. It basically takes the power of positive thinking to a higher ground.

Envisioning What You Want Will Help You Attract It

In a nutshell, if you think it, want it, and feel it, it can be yours — whether it’s good health, a new BMW, or even a spot on American Idol. According to Byrne and many who teach the tenets of The Secret, such luminaries as Plato, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Beethoven, Einstein, and many more all knew this.

The Secret is really quantum physics in action, explains Anne Taylor, the Cleveland-based author of Secrets of Attraction and Quantum Success.

The Secret is the law of attraction and that’s about energy,” she tells WebMD.

Like Attracts Like

According to quantum physics, we all project measurable energetic frequencies or vibrations, she explains. “We project energy in our emotions, beliefs, and thoughts, and that is really the source of what and who we attract and the basis of our sense of well-being,” she says.

“If I am always depressed, that’s what I project in my energy field — and I attract people and situations that are even more depressing,” she says. “It’s about matching energies.”

The Secret is “not wishing for something and thinking about it and focusing on it, it’s about understanding and perhaps changing our personal energy,” she says.

Take infertility, for example. “If you are urgent and desperate to achieve something like colon and psychiatrist in Allentown, Pa., who operates, a web site devoted to exposing quackery and health fraud, agrees with Ross. “There is no evidence that thinking can modify disease other than occasional relaxation exercises,” he says. “Thoughts have nothing to do with physics. They are talking about a concept of energy that cannot be measured.”

“The energy involved in physics can be measured in a number of different ways,” he stresses. “There is nothing real about what they are talking about. They are talking about imaginary energy. The idea of a secret remedy is a classic quack claim.”

Secret Rx for Health?

Another Secret teacher, entrepreneur James Arthur Ray, the president and CEO of the Carlsbad, Calif.-based James Ray International, recently appeared on Oprah to discuss The Secret.

The Secret is based upon the scientific evidence that all things are energy. And like energies are attracted to each other and dissimilar energies repel,” says Ray, the author of several books including The Science of Success: How to Attract Prosperity and Create Harmonic Wealth Through Proven Principles.

For instance, “if you’re constantly thinking and feeling broke, and acting upon those thoughts and emotions, you’ll never create and experience prosperity.”

When it comes to chronic diseases, “Michael J. Fox is a great example of noticing his situation is a gift,” Ray says. Fox has Parkinson’s disease and has been widely quoted as saying that he is grateful for his Parkinson’s disease and that his life is richer for it.

In addition, “there are mounds of research of complete turnaround and remission with all these [chronic] diseases,” Ray says. “At minimum, [The Secret] will give anyone practicing a sense of peace and a better quality of life.”

Maurice A. Ramirez, DO, the founder of High Alert, a disaster preparedness consulting firm in Kissimmee, Fla., is also in on The Secret.

The former emergency room doctor can’t count the number of times he or fellow doctors have said ‘by all rights this person should have been dead’ when they go on to survive and thrive.

The common denominator? “Those who believe in something, whether God or a spirit or just in the fact that they will get better do, in fact, get better, get sick less often, and do better,” he says. “We see this in health care every day.”

But, he cautions, “it’s not just enough to think yourself healthy, you still have to act on it by exercise or eating a healthy diet or in some cases, by taking your medicine, and by taking good advice,” he says, adding that the flip side is also true. “Action without belief is futile.”

The secret of The Secret — applying the law of attraction to success — is not new, explains Judy Williamson, director of the Napoleon Hill World Learning Center at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Ind. Napoleon Hill, a reporter-turned motivational speaker, first wrote Think and Grow Rich in 1937 — and some say this idea even goes back further. Hill interviewed more than 500 of America’s most successful self-made businessmen to uncover the secrets to their success.

One of Hill’s principles involves learning from adversity and defeat. “When you have a setback or any kind of trauma, Napoleon Hill says that there is good within the bad and you need to take that mindset and look for whatever it is that could be good within the bad,” Williamson says.

“If we maintain a positive mental attitude, we can achieve anything in life,” she says. “It’s not going to cure cancer, but an attitude of hope may allow a person to look for cures or treatments that they may not have before.”

It Can’t Hurt — or Can It?

“It tends to blame the victim — the one who didn’t think correctly,” points out Neil Fiore, PhD, a Berkeley, Calif.-based psychologist and author of Awaken Your Strongest Self: Break Free of Stress, Inner Conflict, and Self-Sabotage. “It can cause people greater stress by worrying if they’re causing cancer by having the wrong thoughts and emotions.”

According to Fiore, The Secret makes people afraid of their genuine emotions of depression/sadness and anger/upset. “This is just wrong and counter to the research on the benefits of expressing difficult “negative” emotions and the negative effects of stoically acting as if you’re being positive.”

Published March 2, 2007.