The Secret (book)
|Language||English (also available in 44 languages)|
Beyond Words Publishing
Published in English
|26 November 2006|
|Media type||Print (hardcover, paperback), audio cassette and CD, ebook (Kindle)|
|Pages||198 pp (first edition, hardcover)|
|LC Class||BF639 .B97 2006|
|Followed by||The Power|
|Part of a series on the|
The Secret is a best-selling 2006 self-help book by Rhonda Byrne, based on the earlier film of the same name. It is based on the belief of the law of attraction, which claims that thoughts can change a person's life directly. The book has sold 30 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 50 languages.
Critics have claimed that books such as this promote political complacency and a failure to engage with reality,  and that "it isn’t new, and it isn’t a secret". Scientific claims made in the book have been rejected by a range of critics, pointing out that the book has no scientific foundation.
The Secret was released as a film in March 2006, and later the same year as a book. The book is influenced by Wallace Wattles' 1910 book The Science of Getting Rich, which Byrne received from her daughter during a time of personal trauma in 2004. New York Times bestselling authors of The Passion Test, Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood, are not featured in the film or the book, but arranged 36 of the 52 interviews for the film, many of which are referenced in the book.
Byrne re-introduces a notion originally popularized by persons such as Madame Blavatsky and Norman Vincent Peale that thinking about certain things will make them appear in one's life. Byrne provides examples of historical persons who have allegedly achieved this. Byrne cites a three-step process: ask, believe, and receive. This is based on a quotation from the Bible's Matthew 21:22: "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."
Byrne highlights the importance of gratitude and visualization in achieving one's desires, along with alleged examples. Later chapters describe how to improve one's prosperity, relationships, and health, with more general thoughts about the universe.
The book has been translated into 50 languages and has sold over 30 million copies. Due partly to an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, the book and film had grossed $300 million in sales by 2009. Byrne has subsequently released Secret merchandise and several related books.
US TV host Oprah Winfrey is a proponent of the book. On The Larry King Show she said that the message of The Secret is the message she's been trying to share with the world on her show for the past 21 years. Author Rhonda Byrne was later invited to her show along with people who vow by The Secret.
Elizabeth Scott states the pros and cons of the book in her Verywell review. The pros she points out are that it is empowering, that even if things seem bleak it reminds you that there is a lot that you can do to change your circumstances. It gives the reader research on optimism, visualization, and the power of perspective, while stating that The Secret encourages people to really visualize their goals clearly in order to attract what they want. The cons that Scott points out are that some people believe that it conflicts with their religious values, while others see it as a complementary approach. The book does spend considerable time on how to use the Law of Attraction to gain expensive material possessions, and without direct action; many people have asserted that having such a focus on external things and material wealth goes against the spiritual wisdom of the Law of Attraction. Other cons that Scott points out are the criticism of the idea that we create our own difficult circumstances in life, pointing out people born in extreme poverty, and that The Law of Attraction is not scientifically proven, but more of an anecdotally-observed phenomenon. Her final thoughts are: "Though there are some hiccups to it, I would say that this book can provide some excellent opportunities for stress relief, and a rough road map to a better life."
Valerie Frankel of Good Housekeeping wrote an article about her trying the principles of The Secret for four weeks. While she reached some of her goals, others had improved. Frankel's final assessment is: "Counting my blessings has been uplifting, reminding me of what's already great about my life. Visualization has forced me to pay attention to what I really desire. And laughing is never a bad idea. If you ignore The Secret's far-too-simplistic maxims (no, you will not be doomed to a miserable life for thinking negative thoughts) and the hocus-pocus (the cosmos isn't going to deliver a new car; it's busy), there's actually some helpful advice in the book. But it's nothing you don't already know."
In 2009, Barbara Ehrenreich published Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America as a reaction to self-help books such as The Secret, claiming that they promote political complacency and a failure to engage with reality.
Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, is one of the harshest critics, writing that the book is "full of misplaced clichés, silly quotes, and superstitious drivel," and calls it a "playbook for entitlement and self-absorption," which "anybody who reads it and implements its advice ... will likely make themselves worse off in the long run."
Byrne's scientific claims, in particular concerning quantum physics, have been rejected by a range of authors including Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons at The New York Times and Harvard physicist Lisa Randall. Mary Carmichael and Ben Radford, writing for the Center for Inquiry, have also pointed out that The Secret has no scientific foundation, stating that Byrne's book represents: "a time-worn trick of mixing banal truisms with magical thinking and presenting it as some sort of hidden knowledge: basically, it’s the new New Thought."
- Shermer, Michael (1 June 2007). "The (Other) Secret". Scientific American. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
- Radford, Benjamin (3 February 2009). "'The Secret'". Live Science. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
- Ehrenreich, Barbara (2009). Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. New York: Metropolitan Books. p. 235. ISBN 978-0-8050-8749-9. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
- "Author Barbara Ehrenreich on 'Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America'". Democracy Now!. 13 October 2009. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
- John. "Oprah's Secret: New? Old? Good? Bad? | John G. Stackhouse, Jr". Johnstackhouse.com. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
- Chabris, Christopher; Simons, Daniel (24 September 2010). "Fight 'The Power'". The New York Times.
- "Secrets and Lies". Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. 29 March 2007.
- Randall, Lisa. 2011. Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World. p. 10.
- Jerry Adler (2007), "Decoding 'T", Newsweek
- The Secret, p. ix.
- Attwood, Chris (10 July 2018). "Chris Attwood, Founder and President of The Beyul". LinkedIn.
- The Secret, p. 47.
- "Creative Biography :: Official Web Site of The Secret and The Power". Thesecret.tv. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "What People Are Still Willing To Pay For". Forbes.com. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
- LearningTheSecret (9 May 2013). "Oprah Winfrey speaks about The Secret - Law of Attraction and how to use it!". YouTube. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
- "Discovering The Secret". Oprah.com. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
- Scott, Elizabeth. "Book Review: The Secret by Rhonda Byrne". Verywell.
- "Do You Know The Secret?". goodhousekeeping.com. 18 September 2007.
- Manson, Mark (26 February 2015). "The Staggering Bullshit of "The Secret"". markmanson.net. Retrieved 6 October 2019.