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Growing Numbers in the US in on 'The Secret'

A new self-help craze is sweeping the United States called "The Secret". Like many other personal development programs, it aims to harness the power of positive thinking. Julie Donnelly has more from Washington.

"The secret was hidden, the secret was banned."

The music, the suspense. It looks like a promo for the Da Vinci code. What it is -- is "The Secret". And it is winning the attention of the media and the loyalty of legions of devotees. Publisher Simon and Schuster say the book version is selling 150,000 copies per week.

In Washington D.C., a group sprung up on the Internet so that like-minded fans of "The Secret" can discuss the ideas in depth.

One fan of "The Secret" is Tammy Phelps. She shares her reaction. "When I watched it on the DVD, it really just opened up my whole inner being about where I was, where I wanted to be, what I wasn't doing, what I needed to do."

Chris Wise started the group. He expects "The Secret" to enrich both his personal life, and his business endeavors. "It's a concept that I think many people may have heard of before but never really knew how to use it. And I think the way "The Secret" packages it and explains it really just simplifies it and makes people say. 'Wow, this does make sense'."

But what is "The Secret"? The entrepreneurs and authors featured on the DVD say it is based on something called the Law of Attraction.

It is as simple as this -- if you focus on what you fear or dislike, say debts, for instance, that is what you will get.

But by focusing on what you want, you will attract those things -- or manifest them -- into your life. Some critics say the message is selfish and encourages people to focus on their own needs, rather than the greater good.

But Chris Wise disagrees. "It's not just me. It's not my will that is creating it. It is a co-manifestation or co-creation. It's realizing that it's not going to happen on my timetable, that I'm connected to a larger source and I'm connected to everyone else through this larger source. So it can be a very spiritual thing."

While some say it is spiritual, there is no mention of any kind of god in "The Secret".

Cultural critics such as Paul Smith say it has more to do with Americans wanting to have some control in their lives, and aiming for the material success that is part of the American dream. "If you actually manage to manifest that new Coach bag, then you've done some magic. But you haven't done it by praying, you've just done it by living in the world. And you are learning how to control the world. So the message really is -- you can be a normal person living in the world and yet you can still get all those things out there that are promised to us."

In a country where abundance is the norm, perhaps it is no surprise that some Americans are looking for shortcuts -- like "The Secret" -- to get their piece of the pie.