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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I read it with an open mind, I honestly did, 24 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: The Secret (Hardcover)
Somebody I know recently recommended me 'The Secret', telling me with tears in her eyes (literally) about how it transformed her life, and that she reads passages from it every day to cement its messages into her head. I must admit that I do dabble in flowery "spiritual" self-help books from time-to-time, and that I'm quite quick to defend them against the many detractors who stick their nose up at them and look down at the people who read them. The Dalai Lama's books, for instance, had an absolutely enormous impact on my life when I started reading them during my angst filled early 20s. I say this because I don't want you to think that I'm writing this review with any biases against spiritual and self-help books when I say that 'The Secret' by Rhonda Byrne is truly shocking. In fact, I can safely say that it's the single worst, most pretentious, unethical and downright idiotic book I've ever read in my life. I forced myself to finish the whole book, because I actually paid money for the damn thing, and by the end of it I actually felt angry. I don't remember the last time that a book made me feel angry, so I think Rhonda Byrne deserves a pat on the back for that.

I didn't feel angry because the book was so badly written (which, indeed, it was), but because of the very premise of it, which has struck a chord with so many millions of people across the world since Oprah championed it on her TV show years ago. In numerous paragraphs, which basically repeat the same theme over and over again, Byrne and her collaborators nurture the most selfish materialistic view of life imaginable, preaching not a "Gospel of Wealth", but something even more sinister. At least that encourages the concept that you have to work hard to gain your wealth, and that giving to charity is good. Rather, Byrne et al preach the message that money and material possessions are everything that matters, that they're attainable only by merely thinking positively (in itself, not necessarily a bad message, but I'll get back to that later), and that anyone who doesn't have money, or has some other problem in their life, has brought it on themselves for thinking negatively. Victim of child abuse? Brought it on his/herself. The civil war in Syria? They brought it on themselves. But the banksters, the tax-evading CEOs and the sweatshop owners? They brought all their glorious wealth to themselves through making full use of the natural harmony of "the universe", thinking positively and being grateful for what they have, and they deserve it all.

Now, focusing on positive thinking, visualisation exercises in helping you to achieve your dreams, etc., is a great thing. We know from science and psychology that the power of positive thinking is an incredible tool in helping people to recover from serious illnesses, make friends, get good jobs, etc., and this should be encouraged. One or two of the exercises suggested in this book are actually very good too. But this book peddles the idea that it's the only thing that matters, and it does so under the most wishy-washy flowery and pretentious language I've ever come across. This is a book designed for people who want quick fixes, people who would give anything to believe that you can win the lottery tomorrow by not just visualising it, but also convincing yourself that you've already won. If you're drowning in a sea of debt, you're told to convince yourself that you're a millionaire and then, when you truly believe it, you'll start having cheques coming through your letterbox out of nowhere instead of bills. This is neurotic. 'The Secret' is literally encouraging people to be crazy, to think only of their own self interests, and then (the worst part) to blame people who aren't rich, people who are depressed, people who just lost a parent, for thinking negative thoughts that caused all of their problems. This is an absolutely horrendous book in every conceivable way.
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Location: London, England

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