Wayne Dyer in 2009
May 10, 1940 |
Detroit, Michigan, US
Early life and education
Dyer was born in Detroit, Michigan, to the late Melvin Lyle and Hazel Irene Dyer and spent much of his adolescence in an orphanage on the east side of Detroit. After graduation from Denby High School Dyer served in the United States Navy from 1958 to 1962. He received his DEd degree in counseling from Wayne State University.
Dyer worked as a high school guidance counselor in Detroit and as a professor of counselor education at St. John's University in New York City. He pursued an academic career, published in journals and established a private therapy practice. His lectures at St. John's, which focused on positive thinking and motivational speaking techniques, attracted many students. A literary agent persuaded Dyer to document his theories in his first book called Your Erroneous Zones. Dyer quit his teaching job and began a publicity tour of the United States of America, doggedly pursuing bookstore appearances and media interviews ("out of the back of his station wagon", according to Michael Korda, making the best-seller lists "before book publishers even noticed what was happening"), which eventually led to national television talk show appearances including Merv Griffin, The Tonight Show, and Phil Donahue.
Dyer proceeded to build on his success with lecture tours, a series of audiotapes, and regular publication of new books. Dyer's message resonated with many in the New Thought Movement and beyond. He often recounted anecdotes from his family life, and repeatedly used his own life experience as an example. His self-made man success story was a part of his appeal. Dyer told readers to pursue self actualization, calling reliance on the self as a guide to "religious" experience, and suggested that readers emulate Jesus Christ, whom he termed both an example of a self-actualized person, and a "preacher of self-reliance". Dyer criticized societal focus on guilt, which he saw as an unhealthy immobilization in the present due to actions taken in the past. He advocated readers to see how parents, institutions, and even they, themselves, have imposed guilt trips upon themselves.
Although Dyer initially resisted the spiritual tag, by the 1990s he had altered his message to include more components of spirituality when he wrote the book Real Magic, and discussed higher consciousness, in the book Your Sacred Self.
Dyer has been criticized by some PBS viewers for his appearances on PBS during their pledge drives and his teachings have been characterized by some of these viewers as superficial platitudes that lack rigor and have limited practical or intellectual value.
In May 2010, author Stephen Mitchell, husband of New Age author Byron Katie, filed a suit against Dyer for plagiarism, accusing him of taking 200 lines of his interpretation of the Tao Te Ching for his books Living the Wisdom of the Tao and Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life.
Dyer has been married three times. He has a daughter from his first wife, Judy and none with his second wife, Susan Casselman. He had five children with his third wife, Marcelene, who had two children from a prior marriage. They separated in 2003 after twenty years, but remain married.
"My beliefs are that the truth is a truth until you organize it, and then becomes a lie. I don't think that Jesus was teaching Christianity, Jesus was teaching kindness, love, concern, and peace. What I tell people is don't be Christian, be Christ-like. Don't be Buddhist, be Buddha-like." "Religion is orthodoxy, rules and historical scriptures maintained by people over long periods of time. Generally people are raised to obey the customs and practices of that religion without question. These are customs and expectations from outside the person and do not fit my definition of spiritual."
- Ambition to Meaning [January 2009], rereleased as The Shift [April 2009] by Hay House
- Day & Night (2010), an animated short film created by Pixar and which was shown along with Toy Story 3 during the movie's opening in the U.S., featured an excerpt from one of Dyer's lectures.
- Dan Coffey (2002). St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture. Gale Group.
- Author Biography. Hay House.
- Michael Korda (2001). Making the List: A Cultural History of the American Bestseller, 1900–1999. Barnes & Noble Publishing.
- Dan P. McAdams (2006). The Redemptive Self: Stories Americans Live by. Oxford University Press.
- Henlee Huxlee Barnette (1982). Exploring Medical Ethics. Mercer University Press.
- Boca Raton News, November 13, 2002.
- PBS The Ombudsman Column, March 24th, 2006
- "Self-help guru Wayne Dyer sued for stealing from Tao book". THR, Esq. (May 24, 2010)
- DVD no. 1 of 4-DVD set, Experiencing the Miraculous, copyright Wayne W. Dyer, 2012.
- Wayne Dyer Interview
- There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem
- Video link