More Louise Hay Garbage

I admit that I've whored around the Self-Help section of life's cosmic bookstore, looking for answers. But since perfectionism can lead to procrastination, I stopped. Serial killers tend to have high self-esteem, too, but I found that out in the Psychology section, Self-Help's educated relative a few shelves down.

But there's one old mindfuck that keeps coming back and chafing my brain like a mental herpes sore. Her name is Louise Hay. I bought her book, You Can Heal Your Life, in the late 1980's. (Hey, the Eighties were a bad time for a lot of us- don't judge me.) Among other things, she said that we choose our parents before we're born. Don't consider the logistics of that for too long or your head may explode. We also mentally cause all of our own physical problems and can cure them with a little affirmation. My cat puked on the bookcover. Was he trying to tell me something? In Louise Hay's universe, maybe. I loathed that book. It sold millions.

Now I see that she has a new book. From the look of her website photo, she invested my $12.99 in bad plastic surgery. Affirmations can't cure that any more than she can wish back her shit-canned facial skin. Since I won't be contributing to the sales of her new book, I thought it would be fair to share some thoughts from her first one. (I ripped off the cover and kept it. God, I miss that puke stain.) Here are a few of Louise Hay's diagnoses for mental causes of physical problems.

Warts: "Little expressions of hate. Belief in ugliness."
Tinnitus: "Refusal to listen.Not hearing the inner voice. Stubbornness."
Multiple Sclerosis: "Mental hardness, hard-heartedness, iron will, inflexibility. Fear."
Ingrown Toenail: "Worry and guilt about your right to move forward."
Tapeworm: "Strong belief in being a victim and unclean. Helpless to the seeming attitudes of others."

Of course, I don't want to spoil the ending for you by writing down Ms. Hay's cures. But I must make one exception. If you or anyone you know is currently suffering from gangrene ("Mental morbidity. Drowning of joy with poisonous thoughts") apply this information immediately: I now choose harmonious thoughts and let the joy flow freely through me. Repeat this new thought pattern to yourself several times. Assume that you are already in the process of healing.

Please, Ms. Hay, forgive me for using your sacred text! I feel it is my duty to pass on your healing message! Sufferers must be free from the bondage of Western medicine and learn that they have only themselves to blame! They must think, think, think their way to health. (Oh, and they must buy your books,too. But Ms. Hay, since you gave us all the tools in the first one, why did you need to write another? Have you been holding out on us?)

Please remember, dear reader, if the snake oil you're drinking tastes bitter, maybe you're just not drinking the right brand!

N.B. I'm working on a project of my own: If We All Concentrate, We Can Give This Charlatan Bitch Cancer.

Related post:

Crazy for Feeling This Way?


  1. You are so negative you probably have halitosis. And live a miserable life.

    Do you really want to wish cancer on someone? A cancer survivor at that?

    You are a stupid bitch.

  2. Thank you, Anonymous, for your insightful analysis.

    A key point here is that I don't actually believe that I can wish a disease on anyone any more than I believe that I can cause my own. Do you?

    BTW, how did you know that "I am a stupid bitch" is my daily affirmation? You must be psychic!

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Since I am someone whose life has been incredible affected by Louise Hays teachings I would say that there is definetly a psyco emotional connection to all dis-easse...

    That you don't want to hear what is being said does not mean that it isn't so... to see the connection would mean to have to look deep into the self and then to do some work...which is seems that you are not willing to do.

    I work with many people and when they do look at the connections and see that there is some truth to what is being said - healing on a very large scale occurs...

    and the fact that you would wish cancer on anyone says more about you than anything else...

    om shanti

  4. forgot to mention that I was diagnosed with lupus and asthma...both in Louise's book are about not wanting to live....

    that was in 1990 I have been dis-ease free for the last 13 years and my doctor finally said that if she didn't have all my tests in front of her - she would say that I never had Lupus at all....and THEY...the medical field say it's not curable...

    go figure

  5. anonymous, I am very happy to hear that you no longer suffer from lupus and asthma. This is a wonderful thing, no matter what belief you ascribe to it.

    You've made the assumption that I haven't looked deep inside of myself and done some work. You must think I'm riddled with disease.

    Again, I am going to say that I do NOT believe that I can wish cancer on someone. It is wishful thinking as is apparently my wish for would-be mystics to understand the use of irony.

    In any case, if in the future you come down with a cold or get a wart, I hope you will not feel that you have failed in your vigilant affirmations.

    Since you use the "om" I assume you have done enough study to see that in certain philosophies "dis-ease" is seen as a natural part of life.

    By the way, I know people who have lupus and asthma. I must go tell them that Louise Hay says they don't want to live and they need to be positive and say some affirmations. By your "reasoning" they should start feeling better, right?

    Just as a side note: just as the placebo effect exists, so does spell-check. Please avail yourself of it for the good of all.

    omg chancre

  6. This poster appears to have suffered because of never reading Berne's Games People Play, It won't cure him/her but at least a little self awareness might help

  7. A second reading of the original post gave me a clue to what this posters problem was....mental herpes? Had it checked? Mind Fuck? Sounds like a worrying aftermath of a bad night with a less than clean partner playing on your mind perhaps? Doctors can check for that, dont "self-help" it, ask one to take a look down below!

  8. To Kathcom, care to test it?
    You said "A key point here is that I don't actually believe that I can wish a disease on anyone any more than I believe that I can cause my own", want to pick a mild one? If so, try standing in front of the mirror for 30 straight days and tell yourself you look terrible, have a cold, droopy Rheumy eyes, flaccid skin, a down expression OUT LOUD, Just once a morning should do the trick...then let us all know in 30 days time please the outcome! Did it happen? I bet you never reply!

  9. Dear Anonymous the Third:
    How's this for a deal? I'll stand in front of a mirror and wish myself sick if you'll stand in front of your mirror and wish yourself smart.

    Since it's cold and flu season anyway, which one of us has the better chance?:

  10. Hey kat, after reading your post i did find u negative but throughout ur responses very funny.
    Ur humor may be a defence mechanism or your way of putting up a wall... possiby but i'm no expert.
    Many ideas co-exist and some are completly opposite, but that dosent mean one or the other is wrong.

    I do believe in Louise Hay's theory that most disease starts as psychological stress and builds from there. The reason i believe this is because we are all made up of energy (even our scientists have proven this... look up quantam physics... if thats how u spell it, but google it anyway.
    Our psycological stress causes energy blockages in certain parts of our bodies... usually this is not too threatening and causes muscle aches and pains, but when its experienced over a long period of time it can cause disease.

    Like i said there are many different perspectives and just because i believe in this dosent mean your wrong... but like everyone we need to keep an open mind. Its all good to be critical and ask questions and dive into theorys but once you become cynical, you close yourself off from some great discoveries and realisations.


  11. @Marz: Thank you for keeping an open mind when reading my post. I'd like to clear up a couple things, though.

    Bandying about scientific terminology does not give credence to Louise Hay's "theories."

    Scientific method involves developing a theory, testing it and attaining reproducible results.

    What Louise Hay trumpets is pseudoscience or "magical thinking." For example, the placebo effect can be very real. But it is inherent in us and not summoned by Louise Hay in order to profit from it.

    Her quackery is that much more egregious for preying on our gullible nature, the part that "wants to believe."

    One other thing that I'd like to address is the abuse of the concept of opinion. Having differing points of view is all well and good in the absence of fact. When a fact is in evidence, opinion becomes irrelevant.

    One can have an opinion regarding that fact, such as, "I'm angry that I was bamboozled by a liar." But one cannot ignore the fact in favor of opinion unless one is a fool.

    I'd recommend the book Why People Believe Weird Things as a good way to start one's education when the lessons of high school level science have failed.

    Best of luck on your wonderful journey of learning.

  12. Oh what a lovely day to have come upon your much-needed post (and responses).

    On the one hand - positive affirmation alone cannot change the world (and I use this one word "world" to encompass many things - war, famine, disease, global warming, economies, cancer, difficulties in relationships...)

    On the other, one's attitude does change HOW one deals with the world.

    That said, reading your brialliant insight into Lousie Hay's book has made me smile. That smile is making me feel better than when I went looking for someone - ANYone - willing to mock her and shine a light onto her pseudoscience quackery.

    I - a long-time cancer survivor of a heinously painful disease that is terminal with NO KNOWN SURVIVORS - understand EXACTLY what you are saying and thank you with my whole heart for saying it.

    I could kiss you, you beautiful and not-so-stupid bitch!


  13. @vkingsley: I have to admit that when I read your comment, I got a lump in my throat.

    My mother is also a cancer survivor who was told on many occasions that her life stress caused it and positive energy, raw food shakes etc. could cure it. They meant well but they only added more stress and guilt to her situation.

    I am so happy that you understood what I meant in my post and that I would never wish a terrible disease on anyone. Louise Hay may believe in her own quackery but she has done a disservice to her readers. She is no better than a peddler of snake oil to me.

    Self-help can be a wonderful tool when it is not used to bludgeon those who suffer.

    You've made my day. Thank you.

  14. Kathcom, you did your research only halfway through. You quickly snapped after not liking one of her books of affirmations. Louise herself explicitly and clearly emphasizes that affirmations alone will not be useful UNLESS they are followed by action.
    Louise teaches about common sense things. These are ancient old teachings "you are what you think". I'm not going to defend Louise or waste any more time explaining to you this concept ... it is as old as the ancient civilizations and their philosophers.
    Here's a rhetorical question for you: Why did you buy the book then, if you are so opposed to "positive thinking"? Surely, you leafed through it before purchasing???

  15. @Anonymous: Yes, I read the book all the way through. Although I suspected early on that it was garbage, I gave it a chance because I believe that even the most ridiculous person, place or thing has something to teach us.

    In this case, it taught me about one of our well-meaning, human frailties: gullibility.

    We are most decidedly not "what we think"-- would some of us have chosen the circumstances of our birth, our perceived defects or financial insecurity? According to Hay, the answer is yes. Read the book. We choose our parents before we're born. Do you believe that?

    I can understand that you don't want to explain a concept "as old as the ancient civilizations and their philosophers." You can't because you have no idea what you're talking about. Which philosophers have you read lately?

    By the way, just because a belief is "ancient" does not make it true. We learned the earth is not flat and that the sun does not revolve around us quite a long time ago.

    Though your question is rhetorical, I will answer it. I bought the book looking for help. There is good advice to be found amid the dross. A dose of critical thinking might help treat your case of magical thinking.

    Barbara Ehrenreich has a new book out called Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. I can't give you an opinion about it yet as I haven't read it. But it may be just what the doctor ordered.

  16. Seneca, Aristotel, Epictetus to name a few . If you find it too dificult to follow, you can always turn to Ovid's poetry (ancient Roman poet). I would hardly compare their work to that of man's first guessing theory that the world is flat.

    In any event, Louise takes some concepts a bit too far, but none of them make me feel bad or angry or anxious. Your blogs on the other hand have a pretty negative energy, my dear.
    So, it's time to say good-bye.

    p.s I know you REALLY REALLY REALLY want to be a successful writer kathcom. so go ahead...say it in the mirror to yourself..."I am a great writer. I am a great writer. I am a great writer" I know you want to...

  17. @Anonymous: Congratulations on naming philosophers. Aristotel? Never heard of him: did you Googel him?

    As Epictetus said, "First learn the meaning of what you say, then speak."

    Negativity seems to be ascribed to those who do not suffer fools gladly. I consider myself in good company.

    As an adult, I know that repeating an affirmation will not bring it into being.

    As a writer, I know that one does not waste one's best material on idiots. So I'll be economical here: Go fuck yourself.

  18. I believe that eveyone should say what they want to say..and yes, a lot of Louise Hay's info is very broad in its diagnosis causes, if that is the right way to say it, but a lot of it is rooted in some truth. My personal truth.
    anger and negativity can give you "knots in your stomach". Fear can cause you to hyperventalate. Stress over a very real situation can cause the muscles to tense up and blood pressure to go up, so how does it not make sense that our body MANIFESTS SOME OF THE EMOTIONS THAT WE FEEL, THOUGHTS WE THINK THAT ARE TRANSLATED TO OUR BOIDES? I mean, it just seems super obvious to me.
    I think that your hate, and self hatred must be really blinding you to the possibility of the concept.
    But venting your negativity can only be a good thing for you, getting it off your chest and hopefully not sending it towards anyone in particular.

  19. Dear Kathcom,

    I was just watching "This Emotional Life" on PBS and there was a passing and, as you might imagine, not particularly favorable reference to Ms Hay.

    I recollected her saying to gay folk that bad attitudes led to AIDS. And as my laptop was sitting right there next to me, I wondered what would happen if I googled "Louise Hay" and "pseudoscience."

    I had the good fortune to stumble upon your blog and this post and the mostly delightful exchanges that passed for a time starting in July, 2008.

    I want to thank you for your clear thinking and your good writing. And that I'm glad such things have some sort of half life out in the aethers...

    It does appear you were right, of course, as despite whatever negative energy was directed toward her a year and a half ago, Ms Hay is still around pitching her nostrums.

    On the other hand I have learned a valuable lesson. Apparently blaming the victim has bags of money in it...



  20. Thank you, James. I almost closed this to comments a short time ago after receiving a particularly noxious comment. I don't like to censor anyone but gave myself permission to ban the hateful diatribe from by blog.

    In a way, my exchanges with commenters give a much fuller picture of what I think about this issue than the post could. I'm glad you found it entertaining for the most part. (Probably up until I lost my temper and dropped the f-bomb? I was at the end of my tether.)

    And thank you so much for your kind words. I'm delighted that you found my post and took the time to read it. I checked your profile and look forward to reading Monkey Mind. I've described my thoughts that way for some time now.

  21. I find it comforting that you say what you dare and are daring enough to fight back when people find it necessary to call you names. I find it odd for them to insult you, you didn't insult them personally or come a trolling on their blogs and spout ditto headed blather. IRONICALLY enough, these readers should have been overjoyed. You said what you felt was true, in YOUR affirmed reality (which is in a FACT reality) which is all that loony psycho money grabbing bitch has ever proclaimed. These with such dis-ease weren't asked to be comforted by you, nor supported in any statements that pulled their fantasy land out from under them. I find it more than curious in this time, the inner world has turned back time to Copernicus, where "I" is the center and everything revolves.

    I applaud you. You are also funny as hell!

  22. I just wanted to thank you. I could not find my Hay book and was surfing the net for the information. Even though it may not have been your intention you provided me with the information I was seeking. Again thank you for including some of Hays dis-ease philosophies on your site.

  23. I'm a bit late to this Hay discussion, but hell, it's not stopping, so I'm not sure if my late timing matters. I hate these quacks. I will join you in your "If We All Concentrate, We Can Give This Charlatan Bitch Cancer" affirmation. I'm concentrating! Mind over matter, mind over matter!

    I am also a blogger who challenged one of these "Heal Your Life Certified" quacks. This one threatened to sue me if I didn't publish her comment. (Blackmail, anyone?) She runs a registered charity in the UK which needs money to train people for free "counseling". I wonder, WHAT kind of training?!

    1. Thanks for writing. When I posted this, I'd been blogging less than a month. I was surprised at the reaction. Now I know that comments on many sites are often ignorant, illiterate and impassioned beyond reason. Critical thinking is in short supply. I don't remember the terrible things one person said that caused me to delete his or her comment. I'm curious now.

      But I wasn't threatened with a lawsuit. I'm sorry you were. Did you publish her comment? Would you mind telling me the name of the post? I'd like to read it.

  24. To continue this crazy discussion, I actually found your blog post after searching for "Louise Hay cosmetic surgery", and you were in the first page of results.
    I received today an email from Hay House, and saw a picture of Louise Hay and it really shocked me to see how obvious her face lift (or lifts) was (or were). I found an older interview from 2011 where she looked normal for an 80 something year old, and suddenly this. Even though I haven't bought her books, am have become cautious with positive thinking as being THE only way of life and healing, I felt somewhat betrayed.
    I have been into self help a lot and, although I actually never read Louise Hay, I used to be very much into positive thinking, law of attraction, and such. I still believe that I am responsible for myself, and that includes my attitudes and how I react to things. That also includes my illnesses in some way. I also noticed that my body is stronger when I feel good, and I get more sick when I don't.
    But I also noticed how much this way of looking at things can produce guilt. You are sick? It's your own fault because you weren't "positive" enough. You lost your loved one? You must have attracted it somehow. You don't have enough money to pay your bills? Well go back to your affirmations! And that's a huge downside of this whole movement. I am not saying Louise Hay herself does that - I don't have enough evidence to back it up, but many people use these principles as weapons to explain the world and everyone else's lives, and to replace empathy and caring.
    I enjoyed reading this blog post and the subsequent comments, and even though I would probably not go as far as you in my thinking, I appreciated your way of looking at it, and your great humor. :)

    1. I don't know if you're gonna read it but I don't care. Louise says you should never feel guilty cause you always do what you're finding the best in the moment and not feeling guilty is the part of your healing. I don't believe in all her theories but I've listened to her recordings for a month and it always makes me feel much better.

    2. Hey there, Anonymous, are you picking on another reader's comment? That's not very nice. Let me ask you this: if Louise says "never feel guilty cause you always do what you're finding the best in the moment and not feeling guilty is the part of your healing," what exactly do you need healing from?

      It may sound harsh but I don't owe Hay or anyone respect for something simply because it makes them feel better. So do belches, cookies and warm puppies but they're much harder to monetize.

    3. Thank you very much, Armelle, for your thoughtful comment. You have a more gentle approach than I had when I wrote this. I've thought the same things. I hope that shows beneath the surface layer of contempt I have for this woman. Of course, she can do anything she wants to herself, in my opinion. But if she wants to "help" people with her quackery, then I feel I must respond. I'm glad this became a forum to air that.

      My mother and I have both had breast cancer in the years since I wrote this and we've heard our fair share of well-meaning people asking if we used deodorant, drank diet soda, had stress (who doesn't?), etc. I'm sure a couple people reading this might think my "negativity" caused my cancer. As humans, we search for meaning. If we can codify something, we can control it or, more often than not, ignore it completely until it touches our own lives.

      I think cancer is a little like pregnancy. My friend said she couldn't believe how many strangers would reach out and touch her stomach. It was as if her body was no longer her own, that others had a right to weigh in. (And forget about how La Leche League castigated her when she couldn't breastfeed.)

      With cancer, everybody has an opinion and feels no compunction about sharing it. Everything happens for a reason? I spent plenty of time trying to explain that the reason it happened was that shit happens. Eventually, I stopped. It wasn't helpful to me or to anyone else.

      I never knew where the opinions would come from. Why would our veterinarian(!) feel compelled to tell my husband about alternatives to chemo? He kept his cool but if I'd been there, I would have told her this: "You know who talks about alternative therapies for cancer? Someone who's never had cancer. Or Steve Jobs--why don't we ask him how that worked out for him? Oh, that's right, we can't because he's dead. Now pull that thermometer out of my cat's behind and mind your own business!" At least, I hope I would have said that. The corrosive nature of this "help" is that it gnaws at us. In our weakened state, these suggestions can take us to a very dark place.

      Wow, I think it might be time for another post. You've inspired me. Thanks again for taking the time to read my post. I hope you'll come back for the more lighthearted fare. :)

    4. "Hey there, Anonymous, are you picking on another reader's comment?"
      I'm not. Armelle wrote that "this way of looking at things can produce guilt" so I wrote why she shouldn't feel guilty.

      "what exactly do you need healing from?"
      I didn't mean any particular disease, I meant healing from negative emotions, etc. I know you think it's bullshit.:)

      "So do belches, cookies and warm puppies"
      Exactly. And I guess you byu them. So what's wrong about buing Hay's products?

  25. What's wrong with you? Why are you so negative?

    1. My bullshit meter is high while my bullshit tolerance is low.

  26. He Hello, I was thinking the Same when I tried to read her book...Of course, it helps to be positive, but...

    In my case. Burns (caused by an accident) are - According to Hay -caused by ANGER, RAGE...?????????...I was a child...not knowing how flammable petrol was...

    My cure would be to love people...Sure...I do...but I still have burns...

    She can put her book in her ass...(yes, Now I am ANGRY...Bestseller...What??? Its a Shame...Shame to be human...

    Good writing Kath, though I agree she does not deserve Cancer, but she should ask us for forgiveness about being a charlatan...(At least I think she is) and paying back all people that bought her shit! (PS Hay...I am sorry that you had such a bad childhood...but dont take advantage of it...by scamming...)


  27. I love your post. That woman is a quack. I found your post because I was needing some validation of the feelings I couldn't express,this morning.
    Let me explain: A dear friend of mine, who inspite of being a very smart woman, was an avid Louis Hay's reader... She was only 48 years old and led a healthy life style, she was a kayak instructor and soccer coach, among other sports. Never smoked, never drank and was super fit. She had been doing Mrs Hay's affirmations for more than a decade and swore by them. She firmly believed in the power of those affirmations to keep your health or recover it when you lost it. Out of the blue, a month ago, she was diagnosed with a rare form of uterine cancer. She was scheduled for treatment and fell violently ill, they ran more tests... That's when they discovered that the cancer had metastasized to almost every organ in her body and her bones. The chances of survival where so slim , she chose comfort measures only and in a couple of weeks she died. She had an amazing wife and gorgeous 10 year old girl. Very sad. This morning, her wife (who is my friend on FB) posted a photo of a page of Mrs Hay's book with an affirmation for health, and the following: "This is a reading from a book by Louise Hay, an author ____ read over and over again even when she was well. I have not let those pages rest as these are messages from ____ to me to help heal. Day by day..." Of course, I wouldn't be inhumane or rude to point out that Mrs didn't actually help her ONE bit and how can you even have any faith in her affirmations.... perhaps if __ hadn't trusted so much in those affirmations she would have gotten check ups more frequently and maybe prevented her death. She was a very holistic health person and used traditional medicine only in life or death instances. So , I needed to vent . :)

    1. Thank you for writing. Your friend's wife must find comfort in Hay's words. It has to be incredibly frustrating for you to stay silent when you're grieving for her, too. I'm glad you could vent your feelings here. But I wish it didn't have to be under these circumstances. I'm very sorry for your loss.

  28. @kathcom: Before starting let me say that am a born skeptic and therefore my opinions here are unbiased.
    I both agree as well as disagree. Agree because she has oversimplified ancient wisdom with her mantras (affirmations) ignoring other factors and taken it way too far as if they are the only panacea for all ills plagued by mankind. On top of that her out rightly bogus claims that one chooses one's parents further raise doubt on her credibility.
    Having said all of that, I would put my faith and won't call her a quack because of the following reasons:
    I am a Multiple sclerosis sufferer and long time (over 2 decades) gastric sufferer. If you look at the reasons mentioned by her, they are gripping fear for gastritis and mental hardness, iron will and fear for multiple sclerosis. This matches with my experiences so far.
    Living in a hot country India with abundant sun, healthy traditional cooking and where multiple sclerosis is literally unheard of, how could I get it? Except for the psychological causes that she mentions which match with me 100%.
    Same is the case with gastritis. In my teens when my father underwent a serious nervous breakdown which was followed by mental harassment at school by a teacher coincidentally during the same period that wrecked me mentally. Abuse scared the hell out of me and surprisingly my gastric troubles began from that day up until now!
    Same with her philosophy on thoughts and circumstances that I agree based on my experiences. But as I said in the beginning, she has oversimplified citing that we are responsible for all the adversities that befall on us, let's say an accident!
    Therefore my verdict would be, she is not a quack completely though she might have exploited human gullibility to an extent!

  29. She also contends that you can cure migraines by masturbating. She is a dangerous quack who ripped off tens of thousands of desperate early-years-of-AIDS patients who had nowhere to turn. Burn in hell, opportunist bitch.


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