A Secret You Don’t Want to Know
By Linda Sapadin, Ph.D.

Psst, want to hear a secret? A secret that will bring you wealth, health and a svelte body with little if any effort?

Looks like a lot of people want to hear just such a secret. So many that the very attractive looking book “The Secret” has been a best seller ever since Oprah endorsed it quite some time ago.

I, too, must admit I got sucked in to the hype, wanting to know what this “secret” was. My assumption was that the author had done a bang-up job of taking the best of psychology and packaged it into one dynamic book. Boy, was I wrong!

What the author, Rhonda Byrne, has done is to create a prescription for narcissism accompanied by a heavy dose of contorted reality and ‘blame the victim’ mentality. It misconstrues something really good – the power of positive thinking – and with arrogance and ignorance perverts it into a truly offensive message.

For those of you who still do not know the “secret”, it is the so-called immutable “law of attraction”. Simply stated, it is that “like attracts like, so if you think a thought, you attract like thoughts to you.”

A simple enough principle. But when you extend it to the extreme, then apply it indiscriminately to all situations, appalling consequences can result.

Here are a few quotes from the book to illustrate what I mean.

“Just like the law of gravity, the law of attraction never slips up. There are no exclusions to the law of attraction. If something came to you, you drew it, with prolonged thought.”

“You have the power to change anything, because you are the one who chooses your thoughts and you are the one who feels your feelings.”

“The importance of feelings cannot be overstated. Your feelings are your greatest tool to help you create your life. Your feelings are the primary cause of everything.”

“If you have had thoughts of, ‘I have to work really hard and struggle to have money’, let them go immediately. By thinking those thoughts you emit a negative frequency. Replace those thoughts with ‘Money comes easily and frequently’.”

“Illness cannot exist in a body that has harmonious thoughts. Know that there is only perfection, and as you observe perfection, you must summon that to you. Imperfect thoughts are the cause of all humanity’s ills, including disease, poverty and unhappiness.”

These concepts are truly simplistic, childish and wrong. It’s only kids – young kids at that- who believe that because I got angry with Mommy I made her sick and now she’s going to die. It’s only young kids as well as narcissistic adults who operate under the assumption that they are the center of the universe and the universe will respond to their needs and wishes because of how they feel and what they want.

Most adults are grown up in mind, soul as well as body. They have long ago given up the concept of magical thinking – “I’ve been good so Santa will bring me what I want”. Instead, mature adults focus on taking appropriate action that hopefully (though not necessarily) will bring them what they want. Notice, that taking action and working hard plays no role in the author’s “law of attraction”.

Now, I’ve saved the worst for last. The most offensive part of this book is the outright statement (repeatedly made) that people who have awful things happen to them in their lives are somehow responsible for attracting them by thinking negative thoughts and having negative feelings. Tell that to a survivor of the Holocaust. Tell that to an early Alzheimer’s patient. Tell that to the families of the people who have just been mowed down in the Omaha shopping mall.

Positive thoughts may help you find meaning in tragedy, but prevent random violence, sickness and the ravages of war? Puleeze. Those who harbor the “blame the victim mentality” do damage to the very people who are desperately deserving of understanding and support.

When I see something shoddy in the media, I usually ignore it, trusting that before you know it, it will become yesterday’s news. But this book has been around for awhile. It’s still selling quite well. It frightens me to believe how many people are still buying into its simplistic and harmful ideas.

So to summarize my message to you: Always be on the alert for pernicious ideas prettily packaged. Politically or personally, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like duck, it’s understandable if you think it’s a duck. But it might just be nothing more than quackery, gift wrapped as a highly coveted secret.

Copyright 2007

Author's Bio: 

19 Cloverfield Rd. -- Valley Stream, NY 11581
T: 516 791-2780 -- Email: DrSapadin@aol.com


Dr. Sapadin is a clinical psychologist, author, columnist, educator and motivational speaker. She is known for her sharp insights and exceptional ability to provide timely, yet timeless advice.

Her speciality is teaching people how to master debilitating fear, anxiety, procrastination and other self-defeating patterns in order to buluild competence, enhance communication and enrich relationships.


Now I Get It! Totally Sensational Advice for Living and Loving (Outskirts Press, 2007)

Master Your Fears: How to Triumph Over Your Worries and Get On With Your Life (John Wiley & Sons, 2004). (Also published in Korean and French)

Beat Procrastination and Make the Grade: The Six Styles of Procrastination and How STUDENTS can Overcome Them (Penguin, 1999).

It’s About Time! The Six Styles of Procrastination and How to Overcome Them (Penguin, 1996). Also published in Japanese by Nihon Eizo Press.

Person to Person weekly column, published by Richner Communications.


TV and Radio media: Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox Morning News, National Public Radio (Celeste Quinn Show, Derek McGinty Show, All Things Considered), The God Squad, Canadian Broadcasting Company, the Voice of America, Good Day New York. Full media resume on request.

Print media; The New York Times, USA Today, Newsday, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Men’s Health, Self, Ladies Home Journal, Prevention, First, Fitness, Bottom Line, Moxie, Redbook, Sesame Street, ivillage.com, Lifetime TV.com, WebMD.com. Full media resume on request.

The American Psychological Association, Smithsonian Associates, 92nd St. Y, Herman Miller, Inc, Coopers & Lybrand, Arthur Andersen, Hofstra University.