The Harm in “Positive Thinking”

“Wayne Dyer, best-selling author and lecturer, is one of the world’s preeminent proponents of the power of positive thinking. Dyer often tells audiences that he is his message. As a child, he was abandoned by an abusive, alcoholic father, then lived in orphanages. …Dyer’s central theme is that you can attract whatever you want, be it money, love, even improved health through your thoughts.

“You must assume the feeling of the wish fulfilled,” Dyer, 69, tells his followers. “In the process you begin to attract experiences that match up to what your imagination is offering. This is the great secret of those who are able to manifest into their life, almost effortlessly, what they would like to have.”

ABC’s, Dan Harris, interviewed Dyer about his philosophy:

Harris: The problem I have with the wish fulfillment stuff that you talk about, and positive thinking generally, is that if you invert the logic, then the bad things that are happening to us, and happen to everybody, must be the result of thinking incorrectly.

Dyer: It’s not about correct or incorrect thinking. It’s about alignment. When you see a tsunami hit, as one did not too long ago, and you see people just washed out to sea, it’s not like, you know, thousands of people were just thinking incorrectly and got washed out to sea. They were aligned with that energy that came in there. This is the way this universe works.

This guru is now facing a major challenge to his own philosophy. While ABC News was filming its story, Dyer, who has preached that you can change your health — even your DNA — through the power of thoughts, announced to followers that he is seriously ill with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a disease he initially said he could beat — and which he has been told he could with for 25 years. When Harris sat down with Dyer a few weeks later in October, however, he had changed his tune slightly.

Harris: Do you think that the fact that you are now ill is going to be grist for the people who have punished you, who say, “Look, here this guy’s been telling me that if I change the way I think, I can get what I want? Well, something bad just happened to him so that proves that his whole philosophy is off or he must not be living correctly.

Dyer: First of all, I’m not ill at all. Life itself is a sexually transmitted terminal disease. So, you know, I don’t think of it as, as any punishment at all. I’m thrilled with it.

Sorry Wayne Dyer, but you are a lie to yourself if you say you were ‘thrilled” to have leukemia. You might have been able to use the diagnosis as a challenge to heal what was off in you, or to be grateful for being given a chance to help others through healing lessons, but saying you were “thrilled” to have been diagnosed with cancer is not being true to yourself. I am sure you are not a sadomasochist.

First of all, no amount of positive thinking will stop one’s fate. The people who died in the Tsunami had a number, and their number was up. Their time on this earth was up.

No amount of positive thinking will stop our own death, nor the manner in which we die.

“The Leukemia is the body’s way of healing. I think we have to live in harmony with it (cancer) and not be so terrified of it and not be trying to kill it.” ~Wayne Dyer

His Leukemia is the result of something being off in his mind. It is the result of a deviation from love –be it fear, anger, resentment, a deeply-hidden secret, or some other repressed emotion– the leukemia is not his body healing. It is a cry for help from his subconscious mind. His unresolved issues (probably from childhood) are creating the illness.

I agree, don’t be afraid of the diagnosis, but we must listen to what our body is saying. You don’t have to kill the cancer with drugs or surgery, but you must address what the mind is trying to express, through the body, and then heal the cancer at the subconscious level.

“Disease” of the body is a ‘dis-ease’ of the mind. Dyer needs to penetrate something within himself to truly heal. NO amount of positive thinking is going to cure him.

Even if he “heals” the Leukemia -he must still deal with what is wrong in his subconscious mind –what caused the illness in the first place. If he does not address the root cause, he will get sick in some other part of his body…and so on and so on.

Harris: Watching you speak the other night, you said things like, “You need to believe it to see it.” You also said, “You need to assume the attitude of the wish fulfilled in order to get what you want.”

The problem with this way of thinking is that when people try it and truly feel that it can work for them, and then something bad happens, they think that they are defective in some way, when in actuality, we humans cannot control life. We are not Gods.

People who promote “the power of positive thinking” are never someone who is suffering from serious psychological, emotional, and physical problems. Try telling people like Greg Milligan, whose mother beat his genitals when he was a boy because she couldn’t orgasm, that Greg just needs to think positive and be happy with his sexual dysfunction and nightmares.

Yes, Greg can overcome what he endured, but not without deep psychotherapeutic help.

The subconscious mind gets pretty angry when we try and lie to ourselves. If a person tries to cover up their true pain and unresolved sexual abuse issues by telling themselves that they are healing, but don’t take any action to work on themselves, their subconscious mind will rebel against them and make them sicker.

I am very sorry that Wayne Dyer had/has? Leukemia.

However, I must be truthful. There is a possibility that Dyer’s Leukemia is his soul’s way of letting him know that there is a God, and that he cannot control life and what happens by imagining good things and by thinking positive.

When mankind learns to love God with all their hearts, all their mind, and all their soul, and submits to God’s will –to treat all others and all of nature as we ourselves would want to be treated, and when we learn to control our emotions and center ourselves in love, truth, -and have no expectations one way or another about anything- and when we work on ourselves and our past psychological garbage, then and only then, can we know peace.


Source: ABC News

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10 Responses to The Harm in “Positive Thinking”

  1. j. Hunter says:

    If we believe the bible to be the truth,Then the number one commandment is “Have no other Gods before me”. That includes yourself if you believe you are god. It’s ironic the the holy spirit is not mentioned.Just Spirit. There is no mention of the trinity or that christ died and rose again for all who accept him,NOT SOURCE! The New Age people take advantage of the weak minded and twist Gods word to what they want their followers to believe. I have inquired to several of these authors to give me the take on jesus.NOBODY has replyed!!!! They sent me an email and said I was now on their mailing list! They are avoiding the question. Every one of them I have sent inquiry’s to. What does that say?

  2. Stephen John says:

    Great article. “Life is a sexually transmitted disease”? I cannot rationalize that in any way shape or form as being anything but some screwed up way of admitting to ‘original sin’…that is a far cry from saying Life is Miracle. I agree with your statement that his illness is a cry from God to give credit where credit is due, Consider the Source of All Existence and His Essence and Presence, and not run to ‘spiritual teachers’ like John of God. This has all been well documented in the One Good Book which people resist due to improper perceptions. He talks about Spirituality, now define it. That is a New Age Concept …there is One Spirit, that is of God, the Life Giver..and healing is through that Same Spirit. There were healers in the past that could heal for ‘this life on earth’ but it is not for eternity. Look at Stephen Hawkins..the atheist guru stuck in a wheel chair and he keeps on’s the same message. Dyer is a good writer and what not, however, it’s all of the same thing. His books will be gone and meaningless in 10 years from now..they all come and go, but there is only One that has Always been and Always will be and is Today and Now Forever and Ever. People want quick fix band-aids. That is how I see Dyer..a band aid that should Lead People to the Truth, the Absolute Truth. Many will not be willing to see it until they are 80 years old or older and dependent on hospital care. This teaching will get them nowhere then. He is all over the map using quotes by Jesus and other gurus of the past. What this actually shows is Lack of Faith, not true faith.

  3. Excuse my post script, Mr Harris
    You wrote,
    “I am very sorry that Wayne Dyer has Leukemia. I hope that he recovers from it. However, I must be truthful. There is a possibility that Dyer’s Leukemia is his soul’s way of letting him know that there is a higher power and he cannot control life and what happens by imagining good things and by thinking positive.”

    With all due respect, I suggest that there’s nothing “truthful” in that statement. It’s your belief. And frankly I don’t remember Wayne mentioning anything about “positive thinking” which is Dr Norman Vincent Peale’s take. Nothing harmful however, but I think Wayne’s Spirituality comes from a more sacred place.
    Donny R

    • Alethea says:

      Mr. Harris did not write that, I did. By being truthful, I was referring to my own truth, my honest feelings. There is relative truth and absolute truth. I may be right or wrong, but it is how I felt when I wrote that (read: my truthful feelings).


    • Russ Johnson says:

      Mr Rothbardt,

      I have found your posts all over the Internet. You are a troll and a mean spirited person. I can only think that you must have been abused at some point in your life or suffered some significant pain or failure.

      Please look inward and stop your horrible posting. To anyone else reading this, you can find Mr. Rothbardt’s comments on many sites – usually the posts start with, or state “with all due respect.” Even though we are all due respect, it will never come from this mean man.

      Donny, when you lay your head down to sleep tonight, stop an think about all the people you have been mean to on the Internet (and very most likely in your non-web life as well).

      I am sure you have few friends and I truly feel sorry for the woman that appears with you on your Twitter page.

      To all other people. I suggest you respond to this man in a way that you see fit. People like this continue to go on and on abusing people until someone has the courage to call them out.

  4. Mr Harris,
    Believe what you want but 30 years ago at the age of 49, I was as low and as lost as I’d ever been in my life. Looking for a way out, and by accident (which there aren’t any btw), I picked up Wayne’s first book, “Your Erroneous Zones.” And within minutes, that book began to wake me up to the BS that was sapping my life.
    30 years later (today) I am a life coach and I educate people in how to be happy. And Wayne Dyer’s genius was my springboard. And in the field of helping to enlighten others, the man has no peer.
    And so I humbly suggest Mr Harris, to consider that you are in the presence of a giant of a man…an anointed Spirit. Mock me if you want, but Wayne Dyer, isn’t Jesus…and he’s not my god, but I see him as “The Christ.” If you understand that distinction?
    Ironically, even as an adversary, I do thank you for giving me this opportunity to acknowledge Dr. Wayne Dyer. Which may never have happened if not for this site.
    Donny Rothbardt
    Abington, PA

    • Alethea says:

      “30 years later (today) I am a life coach and I educate people in how to be happy.”

      Well Donny, that’s your first mistake. Trying to teach people to be “happy” will never work becasue it is merely an emotion that comes and goes. You should learn how to help people find peace, not “happiness.”

      You say you see Wayne Dyer as “The Christ?” Yea right. Tell him to go out and move a mountain. Tell him to feed the hungry. If he were The Christ, he would not have gotten Leukemia in the first place.

      You do a serious iniquity to The Christ Jesus by calling Wayne Dyer that.

  5. matthew says:

    Dear Mr Harris. Please stop trying to explain Dyer’s illness and stop trying to analyze him. His statement “life is a sexually transmitted terminal disease” is both lighthearted and true, even if it somehow offended you. We are born due to sex and will all die. The guy is an author and an artist. Cut him some slack, he’s also a human. Positive thinking is only beneficial regardless of one’s fate.
    All the best to you. All the best to Wayne and everyone else who reads this.

  6. Mary says:

    I do agree that us humans have to understand our place in life and in the world and be the best person you can be, most importantly in terms of love, compassion, empathy. The problem with a lot of literature published about positive thinking is that they work on a superficial level in the mind and not in the heart, so therefore tend to be very goal orientated. It is fine to want to acquire and achieve more but it is supporting an already manic world which has spiralled out of control. I also truly believe, as someone who was a total positive thinker, that a lot of the new age authors these days are just playing the game and writing the same things with the same terminology to achieve material success themselves. This also fits in with the American dream mentality very well. They are just the same ambitious people masquerading as bringing about a new age. Once they are in a particular mindset, they lack the ability to see the world through other eyes, other viewpoints and different perceptions based on the myriad of
    experiences and backgrounds that different people have. Surely a new age should be just that. This is not a criticism of Wayne Dyer though as I think he is one of the writers of our time who does have something very meaningful to say and he has a truth in his heart. I have read many of his books.

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