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The Realities of The Secret: Do Not Let the "Magic" Fool You


"No Rules according to the Universe... You provide the feelings of having it now and the universe will respond" (Byrne 2007). The Secret is becoming a very controversial book in today's society. Many people of the professional world are bouncing back against the claims of The Secret. The purpose of this paper is to inform the reader of the false claims that The Secret proclaims, as well as defend the sociological viewpoint using many different theorists' viewpoints such as Freud, Vygotsky, Piaget, Meade, Havighurst, and Vanderah.
The Secret is a new novel and film that proclaims that you are the creator of the universe (Byrne 2007). The book's claim to fame is that you can achieve everything you want if you know the secret to life through the Laws of Attraction (Birkenhead 2007). The thoughts that one creates can drive their future (King 2007). "Decide what you want... believe you can have it, believe you deserve it, believe it is possible for you" (Byrne 2007).

Freud was a theorist who developed a structural and topographical model of personalities using the Id, ego, and superego (Heffner 2002). Freud's response to The Secret would be that the Id has taken over and is creating a selfish view of life, getting what a person wants whenever they want it (Heffner 2002). Freud defined the Id as the part of our personality that seeks out needs and wants of a human being (2002). The ego is meant to be a mediator between the Id and the superego. The superego is the social reality of the social norms in an individual's culture (2002). The Secret is proclaiming a selfish lifestyle in which social norms do not matter (Birkenhead 2007).

Vygotsky, another theorist, developed the Sociocultural Theory which states that human beings have a social formed mind. Also, cognitive development takes place throughout an individual's social interactions between parents, teachers, and others (Von Der Haar 2005). Vygotsky also mentions that culture shapes an individual's belief and value system which creates the way that the individual thinks (2005). Belief and value systems vary from culture to culture which creates a diverse society. Vygotsky would claim that an individual could not get what they want when they want it without the social interaction of others in order to achieve that goal (2005). The Secret is trying to state that you are the creator and can have what you want when you want it (Byrne 2007). In Vygotsky's opinion, Ruth Byrne would be incorrect. She is leaving out the key point to his theory; interaction with others. Vygotsky would state that you could think all you want to on your own, but your thoughts are influenced by others around you. In any culture, in order to achieve or succeeded your goals must have the culture and its social resources. You can not just say I want something and receive it just like that. According to Vygotsky, everything is taught to you by the social culture around you.

Piaget is another theorist that claims that humans develop socially but through the use of symbols, thinking, understanding, and learning (Von Der Haar 2005). During the developmental process, individuals learn to adapt to the external world around them and become more sophisticated using abstract thinking (2005). He also states that humans are driven by meanings, which are modified throughout life processes by interaction with others (Case 2007). The Secret claims that everything in your life is something that you have attracted to yourself (Byrne 2007). Piaget would claim that you cannot attract everything to yourself without the interaction with others and the environment (Von Der Haar 2005).

Meade developed the symbolic interaction theory and the generalized other. The generalized other is the voice of society that an individual is capable to think about (Case 2007). In The Secret, the generalized other is non-existent. People who follow the philosophy of The Secret only think about themselves and not about how they affect society or what society thinks of them. They do not consider the consequences of their actions. You cannot just walk into a store and say I want those shoes and just take them; that is stealing. When one thinks about their actions and how society will be affected, they tend to conform to the social norm.

Havighurst developed a model of developmental tasks and expectations associated with specific roles in life. He claims that individuals as adults have responsibilities to see to, such as caring for the home, having an occupation, and managing a family. According to The Secret you can attract anything you want to you without any effort, you just have to believe (Byrne 2007). Havighurst's theory shows a different perspective. You have to work for what you want; doing it the old fashioned way.

Vanderah established the Social Learning Theory which states that humans learn by imitating role models. When learning new things, we observe the role model and copy their behavior whatever it is, regardless of the consequences ( Von Der Haar 2005). Vanderah would view The Secret as a dangerous outlook on life when considering if people actually took it seriously. People can be seriously hurt, for example a testimonial given by a woman who had breast cancer. She claimed that she followed the guidelines of The Secret. She made herself believe that her cancer was gone, and it was (McFadden 2007). According to social learning theorists, this can be very dangerous because a person with a serious illness would not get proper treatment and could die because they followed the guidelines to The Secret.

Peter Birkenhead discussed his point of view on The Oprah Show and her participation in the promotion of The Secret. He stated in an article that Oprah has a reputation for doing good, such as opening the Leadership Academy in South Africa. He questions her abilities once she promoted The Secret, suggesting that her actions with the two contradict one another. The children in South Africa may get the idea that they are supposed to live in poverty or gain a false hope trying to act out The Secret (Birkenhead 2007). This is another example of the social learning theory and how The Secret could be potentially dangerous.

I personally think that The Secret is irrational and illogical. Though it does have good points, such as thinking more positively to create a happier life, I certainly do not recommend that anyone follow the guidelines set forth by The Secret with the expectation of having results. I also feel that people should never neglect their duties to themselves or to their health. I would say that it is probably not a good idea to take The Secret literally.