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The Secret’s Secret

In the New Yorker, a look at the roots of The Secret in Emersonian “New Thought.”

[F]or much of its history, New Thought was viewed as a progressive project—a way to help ordinary citizens seize control of their fate. The historian Beryl Satter has argued that New Thought was, in large part, a women’s movement, and one that reflected a pattern of shifting expectations. “Until the turn of the century, women’s New Thought texts only ambiguously praised desire and wealth,” Satter writes. “They could not be too overt, because late Victorians linked desire and wealth with manliness.” By the early years of the twentieth century, books and magazines had sprung up around the movement, with an increasingly practical bent. When New Thought writings shifted in emphasis from mastering desires to fulfilling them, they were presaging a feminist revolution.

Posted by Will Baum, LCSW