I must have been eighteen. I was training as a nurse and on weekends I went to Amsterdam to participate in a Gestalt-training. We were about twenty people and we expressed a lot of emotions, as was customary in the day. One group-member told us she had just been diagnosed with cervical cancer. She was still in shock, especially because she’d wanted to get pregnant. Now she would get an operation and radiation treatment instead. Suddenly, another woman asked her:
“Do you know why you got cancer?”
We thought this was insulting. As if she tried to make a grieving woman responsible for having a terrible disease. And she did, because she went on to tell her that she had developed cancer because she wasn’t thinking right.
Much later I found out these ideas came from a book by Louise Hay, called “You can heal your life.” Louise claims she had cervical cancer too. She refused medical treatment and cured herself instead. After that, she made a list of diseases and their causes. For instance, you would develop Alzheimer’s disease because you have:
“a desire to leave the planet”
And you might get leprosy because of an “inability to handle life at all”. I found these specific pearls of wisdom reported by Mark Oppenheimer in a 2008 interview. But there is a long, long list of them.
Thirty years later Louise Hay is a brand. She founded Hay House, publishers of people like Sylvia Browne, the medium who accepted James Randi’s invitation to prove her metaphysical abilities and win a million dollar prize. Sadly, Sylvia later claimed she did not know how to get in touch with Randi. This surprised him, because she usually has no trouble contacting people, even if they’re dead.
Is this thin, 80+ year-old woman dangerous? A difficult question. If you want to learn how to communicate with angels and mermaids that’s fine with me. But I do see a danger in making people responsible for any unfortunate event in their lives. After all, with the affirmations that Hay developed, you can cure yourself, get a decent job, get rich and find your dream lover. If you’re not happy by then, you can even lose weight. It’s amazing that these thoughts are not pasted on every wall of every house, don’t you think?