The So-Called Secret


As a pre-licensed post-doctoral intern of psychology I learned of the phenomenon, the “secret.” I’m supposed to be studying for the national licensing exam, but I digress.

The “Secret” makes me, not to put too fine a point on it, want to puke. How appropriate then, that I first heard about it from someone in an eating disorder group. Eating Disorder patients tend to be, as a gross generalization, quite disturbed in their thinking. She was citing the secret as the reason she was quitting the program. She was going to do it on her own. I sincerely wish her luck.

The problem is, asides from blaming the victim, this particular self-help program appeals to the most deluded of our patients. They often display what we call Magical Thinking, and it means that they can simply will things to happen. This is the healthy phase that children go through around age 3. It can be observed in the “superhero” play at this age.

It doesn’t work so well for adults. There are a surprising number of realms where magical thinking seems to sprout up in adult life, and most of it strikes me of cases of desperately wishful thinking. 3000 self-help books published each year, according to John Norcross, Ph.D. strongly suggest that a) if they work, they work fleetingly and b) these suckers sell like hot Krispy Kreme donuts a few years back.

Well, I’m off to the Museum of Natural History with my daughter to instill a love of science and skeptical thought!!

Adults: $9, Kids her age: $2. I can’t swing the free Tuesday this time around.


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