"You Can Heal Your Life" - Review

Patient Expert

by Louise L. Hay

Ranking ½ stars out of 5

One of our forum members brought this book to my attention because this passage concerned her:

"Headaches come from invalidating the self . . . Forgive yourself, let it go, and the headache will dissolve back into the nothingness from where it came . . . Migraine headaches are created by people who want to be perfect and who create a lot of pressure on themselves. A lot of suppressed anger is involved..."

While I won't go so far as to say that NO head pain could ever come from such psychological/spiritual situations as Hays describes, I must point out that patients in such situations are a very, very small percentage of those suffering from head pain, and her Migraine comments are totally invalid. Although this book was originally written in 1984, before there was clinical evidence that Migraine is a neurological disease, her approach was inappropriate even then. Also, the copy I have is from a 2001 reprint of the book, which means there was opportunity for editing and updating.

Look up the "mental cause?!"

Head pain disorders are not the only illnesses/diseases where Hay expresses herself similarly, further dismaying me. She has a list of conditions and, without mentioning consulting a physician, encourages readers to:

  1. Look up the mental cause...
  2. Repeat to yourself, "I am willing to release the pattern in my consciousness that has created this condition."
  3. Repeat the new thought pattern to yourself several times.
  4. Assume that you are already in the process of healing.

Here are a few illnesses and injuries and what Hays claims to be their "probable cause:"

  • AIDS: Feeling defenseless and hopeless. Nobody cares. A strong belief in not being good enough. Denial of the self. Sexual guilt.
  • Appendicitis: Fear. Fear of life. Blocking the flow of good.
  • Bones, Breaks/Fractures: Rebelling against authority.
  • Diabetes: Longing for what might have been. A great need to control. Deep sorrow. No sweetness left.
  • Headaches: Invalidating the self. Self-criticism. Fear.
  • Migraines: Dislike of being driven. Resisting the flow of life. Sexual fears.
  • Parkinson's disease: Fear and an intense desire to control everything and everyone.

All emphasis for proper healing on mental healing

There is a small section referencing medical care, but again, it places all emphasis for proper healing on mental healing:

"Surgery has its place. It is good for broken bones and accidents and for conditions beyond the abilities of a beginner to dissolve. It may be easier under these conditions to have the operation, and concentrate all the mental healing on seeing that the condition is not recreated.

More and more each day there are many wonderful people in the medical profession who are truly dedicated to helping humanity. More and more doctors are turning to holistic ways of healing, treating the whole person. Yet most doctors do not work with the cause of any illness; they only treat the symptoms, the effects."


I find it difficult to believe that, for example, having surgery for an ovarian cyst, then concentrating on mental healing, is going to prevent another cyst if the person's body is prone to them. As for doctors not treating the cause of illnesses, that's true with some doctors, but I doubt that Hay is going to find many people to agree with her as to the cause of illnesses.

Hay certainly has a right to express her beliefs. What concerns me is that people will see her as an expert because she's a published author, and not seek necessary medical care. I'm all for good, valid complementary therapies. Hay, however, would have us believe that the cause of all illness is psychological/spiritual in nature. Her complete failure to acknowledge actual physical conditions renders this book virtually useless.

Most books have some redeeming content, but I cannot find it here. The book perpetuates myths that head pain is psychological, lacks reasonable medical foundation, and essentially blames us for our pain.

If you want to add a pretty book cover to your library, go for it, but take the content not with a grain of salt, but with an entire salt block.