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The Secret: Is It the Real Deal?

A theory about the power of positive thinking draws adherents -- and controversy.

Secret Rx for Health?

Another Secret teacher, entrepreneur James Arthur Ray, the president and CEO of the Carlsbad, Calif.-based James Ray International, recently appeared on Oprah to discuss The Secret.

"The Secret is based upon the scientific evidence that all things are energy. And like energies are attracted to each other and dissimilar energies repel," says Ray, the author of several books including The Science of Success: How to Attract Prosperity and Create Harmonic Wealth Through Proven Principles.

For instance, "if you're constantly thinking and feeling broke, and acting upon those thoughts and emotions, you'll never create and experience prosperity."

When it comes to chronic diseases, "Michael J. Fox is a great example of noticing his situation is a gift," Ray says. Fox has Parkinson's disease and has been widely quoted as saying that he is grateful for his Parkinson's disease and that his life is richer for it.

In addition, "there are mounds of research of complete turnaround and remission with all these [chronic] diseases," Ray says. "At minimum, [The Secret] will give anyone practicing a sense of peace and a better quality of life."

Maurice A. Ramirez, DO, the founder of High Alert, a disaster preparedness consulting firm in Kissimmee, Fla., is also in on The Secret.

The former emergency room doctor can't count the number of times he or fellow doctors have said 'by all rights this person should have been dead' when they go on to survive and thrive.

The common denominator? "Those who believe in something, whether God or a spirit or just in the fact that they will get better do, in fact, get better, get sick less often, and do better," he says. "We see this in health care every day."

But, he cautions, "it's not just enough to think yourself healthy, you still have to act on it by exercise or eating a healthy diet or in some cases, by taking your medicine, and by taking good advice," he says, adding that the flip side is also true. "Action without belief is futile."

The secret of The Secret -- applying the law of attraction to success -- is not new, explains Judy Williamson, director of the Napoleon Hill World Learning Center at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Ind. Napoleon Hill, a reporter-turned motivational speaker, first wrote Think and Grow Rich in 1937 -- and some say this idea even goes back further. Hill interviewed more than 500 of America's most successful self-made businessmen to uncover the secrets to their success.

One of Hill's principles involves learning from adversity and defeat. "When you have a setback or any kind of trauma, Napoleon Hill says that there is good within the bad and you need to take that mindset and look for whatever it is that could be good within the bad," Williamson says.

"If we maintain a positive mental attitude, we can achieve anything in life," she says. "It's not going to cure cancer, but an attitude of hope may allow a person to look for cures or treatments that they may not have before."

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