Synopses & Reviews
Anything is yours, if you only want it hard enough. Just think of it. ANYTHING. Try it. Try it in earnest and you will succeed. It is the operation of a mighty Law.
Does that sound like something from the latest spin-off of The Secret? In fact, those words were written in 1900 by William Walter Atkinson, the man who authored the first book on the “Law of Attraction.”
Atkinson was only one of the many and varied personalities that make up the movement known as New Thought. Composed of healers, priests, psychologists, and ordinary people from all levels of society, the proponents of New Thought have one thing in common: a belief in the power of the mind. In The History of New Thought, Haller examines the very beginnings of the movement, its early influences (including Swedish seer Emanuel Swedenborg), and how its initial emphasis on healing disease morphed into a vision of the mind’s ability to bring us whatever we desire.
While most histories of New Thought tend to focus on churches and other formal organizations, Haller reveals that New Thought has had a much broader impact on American culture. Bestselling authors from the late nineteenth century and onward sold books in the millions of copies that were eagerly read and quoted by powerful politicians and wealthy industrialists. The idea that thoughts could become reality is so embedded in American culture that we tell each other to “be positive” without ever questioning why. New Thought has become our thought. Anyone interested in psychology, popular culture, or history will be fascinated by this exploration of a little-known facet of modern culture.
"The popularity of the so-called 'Prosperity Gospel' in modern American evangelicalism and the proliferation of exponents of this adaptation of Christian teachings have fascinated religious researchers for decades. But are there antecedents to this phenomenon that can help us understand its methods and motivations? Indeed, there is a long and complex history behind this movement, and in this fine work, author Haller (Swedenborg, Mesmer and the Mind/Body Connection: The Roots of Complementary Medicine) takes us into the heart of the uniquely American set of spiritual doctrines known as 'New Thought' and shows how such thinkers as Emanuel Swedenborg, Mary Baker Eddy, and Norman Vincent Peale have affected the way we view religion and, indeed, God. Haller concludes that 'New Thought marked a triumph of voluntarism, a vindication of religious freedom, and scorn for all forms of authoritarian creeds.' As such, it synthesizes the individualistic impulses of centuries of ecclesiastical radicals and serves it up in a distinctly American religious tradition. Haller, a historian at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, artfully and persuasively pulls together a complex history and shines a much needed light on a seductive and popular religious movement." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
New Thought is a diverse movement whose practitioners have only one thing in common: a belief in the power of the mind to bring health, wealth, and fulfillment. In this comprehensive history of New Thought, John Haller traces its roots from the earliest influences to the mind-cure speculations of the late nineteenth century, and shows how its initial emphasis on healing disease morphed into a vision of the mind’s ability to bring us whatever we desire. Authors like Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, and, more recently, Rhonda Byrne are eagerly read and embraced by millions of people who remain unaware that these writers are merely repeating ideas introduced decades before. The History of New Thought demonstrates the broad and lasting impact that this movement has had on American culture.
About the Author
John S. Haller Jr. is an emeritus professor of history and medical humanities at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He has written more than a dozen books on subjects ranging from race to sexuality and the history of medicine. His most recent books include The History of American Homeopathy and Swedenborg, Mesmer, and the Mind/Body Connection. He is former editor of Caduceus: A Humanities Journal for Medicine and the Health Sciences and, until his retirement in 2008, served for eighteen years as vice president for academic affairs for Southern Illinois University.