Byron Katie

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Byron Kathleen Mitchell
Byron Katie 2.jpg
Byron Katie in 2006
Born Byron Kathleen Reid
December 6, 1942
Breckenridge, Texas
Nationality American
Other names Byron Katie
Occupation Author, speaker
Known for

"The Work (of Byron Katie)"

A method for self-inquiry

Byron Kathleen Mitchell, better known as Byron Katie (born December 6, 1942[1]) is an American speaker and author who teaches a method of self-inquiry known as "The Work of Byron Katie" or simply as "The Work". She is married to the writer and translator Stephen Mitchell. She is the founder of Byron Katie International (BKI), an organization that includes The School for the Work and Turnaround House in Ojai, California.


In February 1986,[2] while in a halfway house for women with eating disorders, Byron Katie experienced a life-changing realization: "I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment." Byron Katie calls her method of self-inquiry "The Work." She has taught it to people all over the world, at free public events, in prisons, hospitals, churches, corporations, shelters for survivors of domestic violence, universities and schools, at weekend intensives, and at her nine-day School for The Work.


The Work is a way of identifying and questioning any stressful thought. It consists of four questions and a turnaround. This is a way of experiencing the opposite of what you believe. The four questions are:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it's true?
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? and
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

The turnaround involves considering the thought in a reversed form - changing subject and object, changing yes and no, or changing it to be self-referential. For example, for the thought "My husband should treat me better," turnarounds could include "I should treat my husband better," "I should treat myself better," or "My husband shouldn't treat me better."[3]

Underlying Byron Katie's ideas is a modified form of moral nihilism where all actions are not only morally equivalent but inherently good. For example, she asserts that she would be joyful if her baby was killed in the Holocaust and that if she broke her arm she would "immediately begin to see the advantages".[4]


Byron Katie has been criticized for setting herself up as a guru figure[citation needed] and controlling her followers and students in a setting similar to a cult[citation needed]. She promotes a "one size fits all" solution to all problems and has said that The Work can eliminate all wordly problems, whether personal, social or environmental.[5] Some observers think The Work can be harmful to people suffering from mental and emotional disorders, particularly those with post-traumatic stress disorder.[6][7] Participants in her workshops have described extreme and intensive days that include fasting, little sleep, and public confessionals.[8][9][10][11] Janaki, a woman who worked for Byron Katie International from 1998 to 2008, has said that despite Katie's claims to have never had an angry or sad moment since her epiphany in 1986, she witnessed Katie being angry with others. [12][13]


  • Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, with Stephen Mitchell, Harmony Books, 2002, ISBN 0-609-60874-6 (HC)
  • I Need Your Love - Is That True? How to Stop Seeking Love, Appreciation, and Approval and Start Finding Them Instead, with Michael Katz, Harmony Books, 2005, ISBN 1-4000-5107-X (HC)
  • A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are, with Stephen Mitchell, Harmony Books, 2007. ISBN 978-0-307-33923-2 (HC)
  • Question Your Thinking, Change the World: Quotations from Byron Katie, edited by Stephen Mitchell, Hay House, 2007. ISBN 978-1-4019-1730-2 (PB)
  • Who Would You Be Without Your Story?: Dialogues with Byron Katie, edited by Carol Williams, Hay House, 2008 ISBN 978-1-4019-2179-8 (PB)
  • Tiger-Tiger, Is It True?, illustrated by Hans Wilhelm, Hay House, 2009 ISBN 978-1-4019-2560-4 (HC)
  • Peace in the Present Moment, with Eckhart Tolle, Hampton Roads Pub Co Inc 2010, Newburyport, MA 2010, ISBN 978-1-57174-643-6


  1. ^ Matousek, Mark (May–June 2006). "Quit Your Pain". AARP Magazine. Archived from the original on 2006-08-20. 
  2. ^ Massad, Sunny (2001). An Interview with Byron Katie
  3. ^ Spencer, Stephan (3 August 2012). "Byron Katie Just Wants You to Be Happy" (Interview). Huffington Post. Retrieved 23 April 2014. 
  4. ^ "Ending the Inner Holocaust". Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  5. ^ Gagneja, Reena. "The Examined Life: Byron Katie - Snake Oil Business?". Retrieved 19 July 2014.  External link in |website= (help)
  6. ^ "A Critique of Byron Katie and Her Therapeutic Techniques". Retrieved 19 July 2014.  External link in |website= (help)
  7. ^ "The Work of Byron Katie Could Accidentally Cause Problems In Psychologically Vulnerable People". Retrieved 19 July 2014.  External link in |website= (help)
  8. ^,67778,68126. Retrieved 19 July 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help); External link in |website= (help)
  9. ^ Retrieved 19 July 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Retrieved 19 July 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help); External link in |website= (help)
  11. ^ "Things Byron Katie Won't Tell You". Retrieved 19 July 2014.  External link in |website= (help)
  12. ^ ""Byron Katie and Janaki"". Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "Katie, Bar the Door!". Retrieved 19 July 2014.  External link in |website= (help)

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