Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Marcy Chvasta, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Carolyn Ellis, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jane Jorgenson, Ph.D.


New Age spirituality, The Law of Attraction, Abstraction, Positive Thinking, Conservatism


I am investigating a New Age spiritual movement called the Law of Attraction that has been the source of recent media attention due to the recent publication of a self-help book called The Secret. The book investigates this phenomenon, which is a theory that takes positive thinking to the extreme. The theory states that reality can be literally manifested through one's thoughts. I am interested in this trend because it supports consumerist values, entrepreneurship, and self-actualization while using socialist rhetoric to promote capitalist values. I am also interested in the implications that this rhetoric holds for women and marginalized groups.

I will investigate how the theory draws on quotes from spiritual leaders, famous scientists, and revered world figures and abstracts their meanings by placing them in a paradigm for their own use. I will also look at how they use the authority of science and an appeal to traditionally Christian language to promote blind faith in this principle.

I will look at how this movement positions consumerism and consumption as a means of self-actualization and spiritual salvation and analyze how the theory lends itself to the ideals of capitalism. Finally, I will emphasize how the Law of Attraction disregards women and marginalized groups by ignoring systemic restrains by focusing only on the power of the individual with a blatant disregard for social institutions and systems.

This project will be a textual rhetorical analysis that will incorporate an ethnographic study, textual analysis, and a critical theoretical approach to theory. The goal of this project is to interrogate a contemporary self-help and New Age spiritual movement that is symptomatic of the contemporary preoccupation with self-actualization and the discourse of positive-thinking.