Highlighting a Comment: Forgiveness & Louise Hay’s Emotional Blackmail

June 19, 2013

A few days ago someone left a brief but very poignant comment on a post here about Louise Hay. In a few measured words she sums up the private distress that Louise Hay’s teachings both trigger and exploit. I hope for it to be read by anyone who visits this site trying to gain some perspective on Louise Hay’s teachings.

The comment is reproduced below in its entirety.

(Please Note: Comment moderation has been switched on for first comments, and there may be a slight delay in posting.)


Comment – June 18 2013:

Late on the thread. This thread [Link] has really helped clear my head. I’m 26 and am having a difficult time with my parents. My mother and I have a strained, messy, painful relationship and I think about it a lot. Many times I’ve felt even suicidal. I read the Louise Hay book “Heal Your Life” a few years ago. Then I ran into a particularly vampiric guy who told me that every painful family relationship is due to a curse that runs in families.

My grandmother died of breast cancer before my mom turned 3.

My mom never had any experience of cancer. I’ve been experiencing pains in my breasts since I was 15 due to growth around the beginning of each menstrual cycle. And until recently I didn’t have much of an issue with these pains, just assumed them to be a normal part of growing as many women experience these pains around the same times I do.

But recently the psychic stress of accepting Hay’s ideas as “true” is catching up with me. Now every time I feel an ache or twitch in my breast tissue I think about my relationship with my mother and if I’m still holding onto resentment (which will cause my ultimate cancerous demise).

Sad to say I still haven’t gotten to the bottom of that question and never will. In other words I don’t think I ever could forgive my mother enough or fully rid myself of “resentment” because it isn’t actually there.

By throwing arbitrary labels at people and leaving it up to them to incorporate the labels into their lives, Hay is able to sit back and let people work for her. Her key trick is that she defines herself as a spiritual medium without saying so by spouting sexy ideas about how we choose everything and are really powerful. And she’s really powerful with all her money and cache so why wouldn’t we believe her?

It’s very circular.



  1. I think people could do worse than read some studies of the work of Freud or Jung and pick up some alternative ideas to try to remedy/cure the Hay infection. Freud was apparently wrong in some ways, and Jung as well but less so than Freud. I only name them as a possible antidote to Hay.

  2. I would prefer to see people reading up on the basics of physiology and the physiology of cancer. Louise Hay talks as if it is an utter mystery what goes on beneath the skin, and invents an entire alternative physiology connecting organs and chemical processes which only she can see. She cloaks it all by preying on the fears, hopes and desperation of her victims.

    By promising them they can heal or prevent their cancer by changing their “negative” emotions she seems to be empowering people with her “positive” message, but she isn’t. She doesn’t know anything about cancer or about psychology, but plenty about marketing.

  3. I’m so glad you highlighted this comment, Yakaru. I thought it was a great comment when I first read it, but got sidetracked before commenting. To the poster of that comment- your comment is right on! I’m so glad you’re able to see through the BS. It all sounds very positive and uplifting, as you say, but the reality is that it leads people on with false hope and lies. Quite the opposite of empowering. And, yes, followers take her nonsense and make sense of it (they have to in order to resolve the cognitive dissonance) and she laughs all the way to the bank. I write a blog debunking Abraham-Hicks (who has ties with Louise Hay) and I’ve wondered if Esther Hicks knew just how easy it would be to pull the wool over people’s eyes. (Fleecing them in the process. It’s a day for sheep expressions, I guess!)

    There is definitely a type of psychological stress that goes along with following this kind of teaching. I experienced that myself. Yakaru mentioned the marketing aspect. In order to sell a product, people must be reminded of their “need” for the product. People like Hay (and Hicks) have to keep people off-balance or the “need” for their products disappears. Vulnerable people make the best targets!

  4. Yes. Vulnerable people are the ones targeted and i daresay that adopting the beliefs of Hay or a number of other new age marketers is fatal.

    Say I followed the idea that resentment was the cause of cancer and that I could cure cancer by removing my resentment to its logical end: if I did have cancer, i would blame my sickness and eventual death entirely on myself for not removing all of my so-called “resentment.” My death would be entirely my fault according to that line of thinking, right?

    Hay mixes into her teachings messages of total acceptance (things like, “you are beautiful and completely deserving of love, acceptance, etc) which completely contradict other messages like, “your stubborn refusal to let go of resentment will lead to your death by cancer.”

    I don’t know. But the method she uses of mixed messages is nothing new and is at present being used to successfully hoodwink millions in the throes of hope.

  5. Yep, each of these teachers, including Louise Hay and Esther Hicks, has a body count in their wake.

    They also convince people that they problems (with resentment, or negative vibration, etc. etc.) that they don’t actually have! I think you were making that point. I’ve noticed since I snapped out of the haze that life is actually a lot simpler when not trying to counteract imaginary problems.

  6. Really. They’re just words.

  7. @Mariah,
    One of the reasons I wanted to highlight this comment was because I so often hear from Hay fans that the teachings are harmless because you should “just choose what resonates with you”. What @Bizzolizzo in the comment makes clear is if the thing which “resonates with you” is the part about “this will protect you from cancer” then you’re in great danger and, as @BL so clearly shows, also set up for suffering misery, guilt add complications to any already existing problems with family and self.

    And coming to terms with emotional problems requires being able to feel them, preferably under controlled circumstances, and in therapy if necessary. But Hay hinders that by calling such emotions “negative” and saying you’ll get cancer if you feel them.

    ….And difficult relationships with parents may require learning to set clear personal boundaries and getting some distance. Forgiving abusive parents is only possible and only healthy from a distance, and Hay’s teachings prevent that as well.

    And even though “to forgive” is a verb, it doesn’t mean it’s something that one “does” at will.

    I also used some of LH’s ideas many years ago. I’d even say that they had a good effect. I simply didn’t stop to think what was really going on. I think back then I would have been mystified by the criticisms I am making two decades later. But I may have understood it better by reading your comment and some of the others in that thread.

  8. And coming to terms with emotional problems requires being able to feel them, preferably under controlled circumstances, and in therapy if necessary. But Hay hinders that by calling such emotions “negative” and saying you’ll get cancer if you feel them.

    Getting on one piece of familiar ground. “Negative” emotions can produce positive outcomes. Getting angry at an injustice can lead to correcting it. Empathy lets us feel sad because of other people’s suffering, which can lead us to help them.

    One thing that particularly irritates me is a somewhat common implication that these “negative” emotions aren’t real. There are a lot of woos who seem to pretend that there’s nothing to get angry about, ever. So they dismiss our legitimate outrage over people being hurt or deceived as if we were being pedantic about grammar. It’s essentially an insult to our moral values and our existence as thinking, feeling people. It’s an endorsement of apathy and sterility.

  9. I totally agree, Bronze Dog! And also, “fear of lack” can remind us that we need to get off our butts and get jobs! Nothing wrong with noticing you don’t have enough money, and doing something about it.

  10. @Bronze Dog,
    Yeh, and Louise Hay’s idea of telling sexual abuse victims that they’ll get cancer if they feel angry about it hardly counts as “positive” in my humble opinion.

  11. I await comments in regard to the post I am making. But, I’m trying to release the amount of time and energy I spend criticizing others for their belief systems. Additionally, I hope that people do not read into this, assuming that I am directing this towards them. This is about my experience.

    I have used Louise Hay’s methods for many years, and I have found them to be quite effective. I don’t consider myself a sheep, nor do I consider myself someone who cannot think for herself.

    In fact, when I first read her book (when it came out) I was quite skeptical about the relationships she draws between illness and family dynamics. However, I felt that to truly gauge the efficacy of her methods, I would have to open myself to the process. So, I did, and I was very pleased with what I considered miraculous results in my life, and especially how I viewed myself.

    I encourage everyone to research the mind body connection. In this day and age, we have unlimited access to information. There are numerous studies that have shown the relationship between stress and it’s affect to the body.

    In my opinion, Ms. Hay presents the idea that poor relationships breed stress, which in turn breeds poor health. That there is a proven direct connection between stress and poor health. Trying to heal ourselves by resolving potential years of dysfunctional relationships isn’t the focus, in my opinion. Letting go of such pain related to said relationships is the essence of the work. The focus should be on our healing, not repairing a irreparable relationship. The information she provides with regard to causes is not meant to give the reader an opportunity to practice–it is to allow us to understand the possible cause for our ill health.

    Once again, I am not using this forum to try to convince anyone of the legitimousy of Ms. Hay’s work. My intention is to provide those who choose to read it, my story.

    May we all practice the compassion and loving kindness we wish to receive.

    Karma Yangzom
    (Please pardon any typos. ☺️)

  12. Karma,

    I’m afraid I will have to correct you on a few points.

    Louise Hay teaches something quite different from what you ascribe to her. She claims that she healed her own cancer using affirmations. She sells products based on this story and this claim. In other words, regardless of how nice she might be, she’s a quack.

    She frightens people with the idea that negative thoughts will make you sick — which makes sick people even more miserable and spend years trying to find the thought that made them sick so that they can change it and heal themselves.

    There is plenty of solid research and medical practice concerning stress and relaxation etc, and Louise Hay’s work is not a part of that. She has no evidence for any of her claims, and does not keep any records at all of success or failure.

    And dividing thoughts up into positive and negative is psychologically extremely unhealthy. Thoughts are just thoughts. The only reason why Hay says critcism is negative is because she doesn’t want to be criticized — because she has no interest in whether or not her ideas work. She doesn’t follow them herself –see link-

    All the best….!!!

  13. Very glad to find this type of clear thinking on the net. I left California (for Europe) 10 years ago and one of the things that I was glad to leave behind was this type of half-baked “your thoughts create your reality” crap that people such as Hays and her followers carelessly spread around. Sadly, I discovered it starting to take hold within the “alternative” scene in the UK and continental Europe as well. It really bummed me out that by choosing to hang out with people who challenged the status quo of work/consume/achieve status, I then had to endure a lot of ridiculous conversations about things like how to “activate your DNA” and other pseudo-scientific, pseudo-psychological claptrap! It particularly irritates me that these people deny the role of randomness and chaos in the universal order, when these things are totally undeniable. In a way, these woo woos are no different from religious fundamentalists: they crave certainty and are petrified of the idea that unfair things often happen and that tragedy can strike the undeserving.

    I had an insane argument a few months ago with a guy who was completely convinced that the “law of attraction” (i.e. you get what you wish for, only sometimes your fears are so strong that actually you get what you are afraid of. Uh huh, in other words: sometimes shit works out how you want it to and sometimes, well, it just don’t…) was PROVEN (yes, proven) by Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, and stated such as though it were a well-known fact. When I told him what this Principle actually says (you can’t determine how fast an electron is spinning and also pinpoint its location at the same time, thus what you are observing affects the data you perceive) he utterly refused to believe me or to read any of the copious amounts of data I later sent him which PROVED that he didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.

    When this guy would get a cold or the flu, it was never because he’d been exposed to it through someone else who was sick, but rather because it allowed him to avoid some duty or commitment that was actually wrong for him or a particular person who was in fact toxic to him. I had great fun throwing this cod-philosophy back in his face a few months later when his flakiness completely wrecked a creative project. “Oh but you must have attracted that outcome because you either wanted or feared it!” Tee hee!

    Seriously though, when people’s negativity is blamed for their contracting chronic or terminal illnesses, it is no joke and people like Louise Hay oughta be prosecuted in my opinion.

  14. Thanks for your comments.

    Yeh — ideas like the law of attraction are designed to trap people and the marketing is a mix of appeals to hope & greed, and subtle triggers for fear. The Secret, for example, goes as far as inserting subliminal images of people being hunted and even burned alive. And of course, they used plenty of sexual imagery too.


    It’s funny how people who “know” how quantum physics affects consciousness need to resort to crass manipulation and cult tactics to get people to buy their products.

  15. Thanks for your articles. I recently woke up to the Louise Hay scams. I used to believe everything she said. The big red flags for me was her endorsement of James Van Praague and “Abraham” Hicks. (I’m not sure what other known fraudsters she promotes; those are the two I know right now.)

    As with all scammers, Hay gives you enough truth to get you hooked. Sure, who can’t benefit from a little positive thinking? But, taking that to the extremes she does, as a cure all, is dangerous and damaging. “New Age Guilt” as it’s called.
    I thought I was a skeptic, but even someone who thinks they know better can get hoodwinked.

  16. I used some of her ideas for a while when I was younger. It just didn’t register with me that she really meant it when she said things like cancer and leprosy are caused by negative thoughts, and can be cured with positive ones.

    Yuo wrote:
    “I’m not sure what other known fraudsters she promotes”

    If you know any other New Age fraudsters, she most likely promotes them Hay House publishing is the Grand Central Station for the trains of dangerous quackery.

    Thanks for reading & commenting!

  17. My mom used a similar philosophy by Norman Vincent Peale. She would frequently tell me that “life is what you make it”, after my violent abusive father would throw me to the floor, climb on top of me, and beat me with his fists in a fit of rage…Throughout my growing up with constant terrorizing and ridicule from Dad, my mother always told me it was my fault.(the scapegoating, the gaslighting, the blaming the emotional and physical abuse was just not there according to mom)

    Mom recently passed still in denial and blaming me for everything…In an effort to get some closure, hoping she had gone through some kind of life review, I made the mistake of calling a very respected medium who proceeded to inform me, that i had to drop my anger, that my abuse wasn’t that bad, it was like what you see on a sitcom ,..don’t play into the ego.. We are all just playing roles.etcetcetc

    I will never do that again.
    I know what happened and i will never let someone play with my head again.

    So here is a warning to those out there who have been hurt,or are traumatized and are trying to regain a bit of sanity in a crazy world, RUN…RUN a mile from this stuff, run far and run fast.
    Nothing will lock you into powerless despair faster than this crap.

    If you hadn’t guessed it, this is one of the favorite philosophies of abusers..they can hit you in the face, if you are in pain it is YOUR problem, they did nothing wrong.

  18. Thank you for opening this window into you experiences. I hope you have found a way of dealing with it and healing what can be healed.

    This kind of abuse is far more common than poeple realize, and, as you point out, this positive thinking stuff is extremely well suited to abusers. You may know that Peale was Donald Trump’s pastor when he was young, and Trump held the connection his whole life. He often cites Peale when people ask him about Christianity.

    I wish you all the best for healing and learning…..

  19. Thank you. The medium said things that only my mom would say, which makes it worse.

    I have been researching this (positive thinking movement).
    Norman Vincent Peale and Trump, not surprising, the entire philosophy seems to make you unempathic, narcissistic, and intolerant.

    I believe that Positive Thinking is being funded at a very high level. Eg. Templeton Foundation for one, another Dale Carnegie funded Napoleon Hill , supposedly, Wall street funded Evangelicalism see Kevin Kruse’s book,

    Wall street has a vested intersst in pushing a certain type of spirituality.

    Two books i ran into which i will probably purchase and am passing along:
    “Surge of Piety: Norman Vincent Peale and the Remaking of American Religious Life” by Christopher Lane

    Peale was funded by some high rollers.

    Much more recent:
    “The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold us Well-Being”
    by William Davies

    This is scary scary stuff. (just read the preface on amazon)
    Basically they have devices to monitor your “well being” including if you are thinking “happy thoughts” based on physiological data.In future, not showing satisfaction and being chirpy enough at your job, could get you fired.

    And of course you probably know about Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Brightsided”.

    As economies become worse worldwide, they are pushing this happy clappy positive thinking view, which quite frankly IS sadistic.

  20. What??? The Templeton Foundation is in on *this* as well??? I knew of them as funding anything that aims to cast doubt on evolution and funding any scientist willing to explore a “more nuanced approach” to religion (i.e. doing crappy science), but I wasn’t expecting them to be involved in this kind of thing too. (They stopped funding well designed scientific studies after their methodologically sound “intercessionary prayer” study demonstrated that prayer has no effect on healing.)

    I found this on Templeton & positive thinking–

    “A large part of positive psychology’s academic research has been bankrolled by an organization called the Templeton Foundation, a group that has provided millions of dollars in funding to most of the major positive psychology research centers in America. While the Foundation is ostensibly politically neutral, its founder and director until his death last year was Sir John Templeton Jr, a lavish rightwing political donor, who over his lifetime gave millions of dollars to the Republican party and various anti-government rightwing political causes.”

    I didn’t know about this aspect of their work at all…. Thanks!

    I’ve written a lot here about The Secret and some of the evil that flowed from it, as well as Louise Hay and others, and noticed the shadowy cultish-Christian roots of it, but didn’t know about the side of it you refer to.

    What I’d noticed with Trump is that he thinks he’s an expert in everything, which is probably a result of having internalized all this guff about creating one’s own reality, etc. — why listen to an expert if you create your own reality. An expert will only cast negative doubts anyway. Also, it simulates a psychopathic mentality, where others are reduced to mere commodities to be grabbed, etc. Clearly those who are already psychopaths have a head start with this stuff, and it affirms for them that their state of mind is normal and victims only have themselves to blame.

    I really appreciate your thoughts on this, and the reading list. I’m familiar with Ehrenreich but none of the others.

    I hope you don’t mind be quoting part of your comment on recent post, here–

    Your observations and the reading list are both valuable and relevant to it as well.

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