The Secret (book)

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For the film the book was based on, see The Secret (2006 film). For other uses, see Secret (disambiguation).
The Secret
Hardcover edition
Author Rhonda Byrne
Country Australia, USA
Language English (also available in 44 languages)
Genre Self-help, Spiritual
Publisher Atria Books
Beyond Words Publishing
Publication date
November 2006
Published in English
26 November 2006
Media type Print (hardcover, paperback), audio cassette and CD, ebook (Kindle)
Pages 198 pp (first edition, hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-58270-170-7
OCLC 76240921
131 22
LC Class BF639 .B97 2006
Followed by The Power

The Secret is a best-selling 2006 self-help book written by Rhonda Byrne, based on the earlier film of the same name. It is based on the law of attraction and claims that positive thinking can create life-changing results such as increased happiness, health, and wealth. The book has sold more than 19 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 46 languages.[1] It has attracted a great deal of controversy and criticism for its claims, and has been parodied on several TV programs.


The Secret was released in DVD format in March 2006. The tenet of the film and book is that the universe is governed by a natural "law" called the law of attraction, which is said to work by attracting into a person's life the experiences, situations, events and people that "match the frequency" of the person's thoughts and feelings. From this, the book argues that thinking positively can create life-changing results, such as increased wealth, health and happiness.

The book is very much influenced by Wallace Wattles' 1910 book The Science of Getting Rich,[2] which Byrne received from her daughter during a time of personal trauma in 2004.[3][4] Byrne read and synthesized several classic books and the words of modern-day teachers who spoke about ancient wisdom and the ways for people to attract what they desire into their lives.[citation needed] The book includes many quotes from these people.

After being featured in two episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show, the book reached the top of The New York Times's bestseller list, where it remained for 146 consecutive weeks. The book has been translated into 44 languages[5] and has over 21 million copies in print.[6] Thanks in large part to the appearance on the Oprah TV show, the book and film have grossed $300 million in sales, according to a 15 January 2009 article by Forbes magazine.[7]

In 2009, the film's producer, Paul Harrington, released a book for teenagers called The Secret to Teen Power. Byrne has also released a calendar and several follow-up books, including The Power in August 2010 and The Magic in 2012, both of which also reached number one on The New York Times's bestseller list.

The law of attraction[edit]

The Secret posits that the law of attraction is a natural law which determines the complete order of the universe and of our personal lives through the process of "like attracts like". The author claims that as we think and feel, a corresponding frequency is sent out into the universe which attracts back to us events and circumstances on that same frequency. For example, if you think angry thoughts and feel angry, it is claimed that you will attract back events and circumstances that cause you to feel more anger. Conversely, if you think and feel positively, you will attract back positive events and circumstances. Proponents of the supposed law claim that desirable outcomes such as better health, wealth, and happiness can be attracted simply by changing one's thoughts and feelings. For example, some people believe that using "the Secret" can cure cancer.[8] There is no scientific basis to the idea that thoughts by themselves can affect anything physical, such as serious illness.[9]

Book synopsis[edit]

The book begins by introducing and explaining the mechanisms of the law of attraction, and then describes historical examples of its application and great men and women in history who are claimed to have harnessed its power. The book describes the law as accounting for a magnetic power that is emitted through one's thoughts. The power of thoughts is likened to the power in a transmission tower, which sends out a frequency to the universe and then returns the same frequency in a physical or elemental form.

Next, a three-step creative process for making dreams manifest is introduced: ask, believe, and receive. This creative process is based on a quote from the Bible:[10] "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." (Matthew 21:22)

"One of the most powerful uses of gratitude
can be incorporated in the Creative Process
to turbo-charge what you want."

The Secret, p. 80.

The Secret highlights gratitude and visualization as the two most powerful processes to help make one's desires manifest. It claims that being grateful both lifts your frequency higher and affirms that you believe you will receive your desire. Visualization is said to help focus the mind to send out the clearest message to the universe. Several techniques are given for the visualization process, as well as examples of people claimed to have used visualization successfully to make their dreams manifest.

For example, if a person wanted a new car, by thinking positively about the new car, having thankful feelings about the car as if it were already attained, and opening one's life in tangible ways for a new car to be acquired (for instance, test-driving the new car, or making sure that no-one parks in the space where the new car would arrive), the law of attraction would rearrange events to make it possible for the car to manifest in the person's life.

The subsequent chapters describe how to use the law of attraction specifically in the areas of wealth, relationships, and health. The book provides examples and ways to use the law of attraction for each. The final chapters offer a more spiritual perspective on the law of attraction, and how it relates to one's life and the world.


The claims made by both the book and the film are highly controversial, and have been criticized by reviewers and readers. The book has also been heavily criticized by former believers and practitioners, with some[who?] claiming that The Secret was conceived by the author and that the only people generating wealth and happiness from it are the author and the publishers.[citation needed]

Historian and ethicist John G. Stackhouse, Jr. has provided some historical context for The Secret. He critically locates it in the tradition of American New Thought, "mind over matter" philosophy, and popular religion, calling it "nothing new".[11]

Ethical considerations[edit]

Some critics say that The Secret offers false hope to those in true need of more conventional assistance in their lives. For example, in 2007 Barbara Ehrenreich, an author and social critic, ridiculed the book's weight control advice to "not observe" overweight people.[12]

In 2009, Ehrenreich published Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America[13] as a response to "positive thinking" books, such as The Secret, which teach that "if I just change my thoughts, I could have it all".[14] She worried that this was delusional or even dangerous,[15] because it avoided dealing with the real sources of problems.[16] She said that such thinking encouraged "victim-blaming, political complacency, and a culture-wide flight from realism", through its suggestion that failure was the result of not trying "hard enough" or believing "firmly enough in the inevitability of your success", and that those who were "disappointed, resentful, or downcast" were "victims" or "losers".[15] Ehrenreich advocated "not negative thinking or despair" but "realism, checking out what’s really there and figuring out how to change it".[14]

According to Religion Dispatches, Byrne argued that natural disasters strike those "on the same frequency as the event" and implied that the 2006 tsunami victims could have spared themselves.[15]

On the Adam Carolla podcast, Dr. Drew said that The Secret promoted "primitive thinking" as a replacement for actually earning esteem.[17]

Pseudoscientific claims[edit]

In a harshly critical 2010 review, The New York Times stated: "'The Power' and 'The Secret' are larded with references to magnets, energy and quantum mechanics. This last is a dead giveaway: whenever you hear someone appeal to impenetrable physics to explain the workings of the mind, run away - we already have disciplines called 'psychology' and 'neuroscience' to deal with those questions. Byrne’s onslaught of pseudoscientific jargon serves mostly to establish an 'illusion of knowledge,' as social scientists call our tendency to believe we understand something much better than we really do."[18]

The book has been criticised for its interpretations of quantum physics. Lisa Randall has stated that it is "disquieting" that Byrne claimed to have "never studied physics or science at school, and yet when (Byrne) read complex books on quantum physics (Byrne) understood them perfectly because (Byrne) wanted to understand them".[19] Mary Carmichael and Ben Radford have stated that the book has "a semblance of scientific accuracy. ...The problem is that neither the film nor the book has any basis in scientific reality."[20]

Other criticism[edit]

In businesses using the DVD for employee training or morale-building, some reacted to it as "a gimmick" and as "disturbing", similar to "being indoctrinated into a cult".[12]


  • The Chaser's War on Everything, a satirical comedy news program on Australia's ABC TV network, parodied The Secret on 16 May 2007 by testing out the ideas put forward in the book.[21]
  • The Secret appears in 2015 Bollywood movie "All Is Well", where a burning copy of the book is shown in one scene.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Hindustan Times". The Hindustan Times. 2010-07-16. Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  2. ^ Jerry Adler (2007), "Decoding 'T", Newsweek 
  3. ^ The Secret, p. ix.
  4. ^ "Making of The Secret :: Official Web Site of The Secret and The Power". Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  5. ^ "The Secret Book - World Languages :: Official Store for The Secret and The Power". Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  6. ^ "Creative Biography :: Official Web Site of The Secret and The Power". Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  7. ^ "What People Are Still Willing To Pay For". Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  8. ^ S., Bronwynn-Rose. "Curing Cancer Using the Secret!". The Secret. TS Production Laq XLC. 
  9. ^ Carroll, Robert Todd (19 December 2013). "law of attraction". The Skeptic's Dictionary. Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  10. ^ The Secret, p. 47.
  11. ^ John. "Oprah’s Secret: New? Old? Good? Bad? | John G. Stackhouse, Jr". Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  12. ^ a b Ehrenreich, Barbara (27 February 2007). "The Secret of Mass Delusion". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 29 October 2009. 
  13. ^ Ehrenreich, Barbara (2009). Bright-sided : how the relentless promotion of positive thinking has undermined America (1 ed.). New York: Metropolitan Books. p. 235. ISBN 978-0-8050-8749-9. Retrieved 4 April 2010. 
  14. ^ a b "Author Barbara Ehrenreich on 'Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America'" (Transcript). Democracy Now!. 13 October 2009. Retrieved 29 October 2009. 
  15. ^ a b c Goldberg, Michelle (11 October 2009). "Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-Sided Explores the Dark Side of Positive Thinking". Religion Dispatches. Retrieved 29 October 2009. 
  16. ^ Robb, Amanda (October 2009). "Barbara Ehrenreich on the Downside of Optimism". Retrieved 29 October 2009. 
  17. ^ "The brave Dr. Drew Pinsky and Adam Carolla confronting the horrors of primitive thought". YouTube. 2011-09-18. Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  18. ^ CHRISTOPHER F. CHABRIS and DANIEL J. SIMONS, Fight ‘The Power’, The New York Times 24 September 2010.
  19. ^ Randall, Lisa. 2011. Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World. (Page 10)
  20. ^ "Secrets and Lies". Retrieved 16 February 2015. 
  21. ^ "Nut Job of the Week". The Chaser's War on Everything. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Sydney, Australia. 2007-05-16. The Chaser's War on Everything - The Secret,
  22. ^ 'Baaton Ko Teri' VIDEO Song | Arijit Singh | Abhishek Bachchan, Asin | T-Series. [1],""


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