Wayne Walter Dyer (May 10, 1940 – August 29, 2015) was an American self-help author and motivational speaker. His first book, Your Erroneous Zones (1976), is one of the best-selling books of all time, with an estimated 35 million copies sold to date.
Early life and education
Dyer was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Melvin Lyle Dyer and Hazel Irene Vollick, and spent much of his childhood (until age 10) in an orphanage on the east side of Detroit, after his father walked out on the family, leaving his mother to raise three small boys. After graduating from Denby High School, Dyer served in the United States Navy from 1958 to 1962. He received his D.Ed. degree in counseling from Wayne State University for a dissertation titled Group Counseling Leadership Training in Counselor Education, under the supervision of Mildred Peters.
Dyer, a Detroit native, worked as a high school guidance counselor there and as a professor of counselor education at St. John’s University in New York City. He pursued an academic career, published in journals, and established a private therapy practice. His lectures at St. John’s, which focused on positive thinking and motivational speaking techniques, attracted many students. A literary agent persuaded Dyer to document his theories in his first book, called Your Erroneous Zones (1976). Dyer quit his teaching job and began a publicity tour of the United States, doggedly pursuing bookstore appearances and media interviews (“out of the back of his station wagon”, according to Michael Korda, making the best-seller lists “before book publishers even noticed what was happening”). After Your Erroneous Zones dozens more books followed, many of them also best-sellers. Among them were “Wishes Fulfilled,” “Excuses Begone” and “The Sky’s the Limit.” The success of these books eventually led to national television talk show appearances including The Merv Griffin Show, The Tonight Show, and The Phil Donahue Show. The Pixar animated short film, Day & Night, is based on one of Wayne Dyer’s lectures, and Dyer is the voice in the film. Day & Night was nominated for the Best Animated Short Film at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. It won the award for Best Short Film at the 38th Annie Awards.
Dyer proceeded to build on his success with lecture tours, a series of audiotapes, and regular publication of new books. Dyer’s message resonated with many in the New Thought Movement and beyond. He often recounted anecdotes from his family life and repeatedly used his own life experience as an example. His self-made man success story was a part of his appeal. Dyer told readers to pursue self actualization, calling reliance on the self as a guide to “religious” experience, and suggested that readers emulate Jesus Christ, whom he termed both an example of a self-actualized person and a “preacher of self-reliance”. Dyer criticized societal focus on guilt, which he saw as an unhealthy immobilization in the present due to actions taken in the past. He advocated readers to see how parents, institutions, and even they, themselves, have imposed guilt trips upon themselves.
Although Dyer initially resisted the spiritual tag, by the 1990s he had altered his message to include more components of spirituality when he wrote the book Real Magic and discussed higher consciousness, in the book Your Sacred Self.
Dyer was influenced by Abraham Maslow‘s concept of self-actualization and by the teachings of Swami Muktananda, whom he considered to be his master. In his book, Wishes Fulfilled; Mastering the Art of Manifesting, Dr. Dyer also credited Saint Francis of Assisi, the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, and their teachings as being foundational influences in his work.
Dyer was sometimes criticized by PBS viewers for his appearances on PBS during their pledge drives. An ombudsman once summarized the essence of the complaints as being “that PBS might be seen as lending its prestige to Dyer’s spiritual views and aligning itself with his teachings.”
In May 2010, author Stephen Mitchell, husband of New Age author Byron Katie, filed a suit against Dyer for plagiarism, accusing him of taking 200 lines of his interpretation of the Tao Te Ching for his books Living the Wisdom of the Tao and Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life.
Psychotherapist Albert Ellis writes that Dyer’s book Your Erroneous Zones is probably “the worst example” of plagiarism of Ellis’ Rational Emotive Therapy (RET). In a 1985 letter to Dyer, Ellis claims that Dyer had participated in a workshop Ellis gave on RET before Dyer published his book, in which Dyer appeared to understand RET very well. Ellis adds that “300 or more people have voluntarily told me… that [the book] was clearly derived from RET.” Dyer never apologized nor expressed any sense of wrongdoing. Ellis admonishes Dyer for unethically and unprofessionally not giving Ellis credit as the book’s primary source, but expressed overall gratitude for Dyer’s work, writing: “Your Erroneous Zones is a good book, … it has helped a great number of people, and … it outlines the main principles of RET quite well,… with great simplicity and clarity.” 
Dyer was married three times. With his first wife, Judy, he had a daughter, Tracy. With his second wife, Susan Casselman, he had no children. With his third wife, Marcelene, he had five children (Skye, Summer, Serena, Sands, and Saje), and two stepchildren (Shane and Stephanie) from Marcelene’s prior marriage. Wayne and Marcelene legally separated in 2001, after 20 years of marriage.
“My beliefs are that the truth is a truth until you organize it, and then it becomes a lie. I don’t think that Jesus was teaching Christianity, Jesus was teaching kindness, love, concern, and peace. What I tell people is don’t be Christian, be Christ-like. Don’t be Buddhist, be Buddha-like.” “Religion is orthodoxy, rules and historical scriptures maintained by people over long periods of time. Generally people are raised to obey the customs and practices of that religion without question. These are customs and expectations from outside the person and do not fit my definition of spiritual.”
- Your Erroneous Zones
- Pulling Your Own Strings
- The Sky’s the Limit
- Gifts from Eykis
- What Do You Really Want For Your Children
- Happy Holidays
- Everyday Wisdom
- You’ll See It When You Believe It
- Real Magic
- Your Sacred Self
- A Promise is a Promise (with Marcelene Dyer)
- Manifest Your Destiny
- Wisdom of the Ages
- There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem
- 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace
- The Power of Intention
- Being in Balance
- Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life
- Don’t Die with Your Music Still in You (with Serena Dyer)
- Getting in the Gap
- The Incredible Force
- Living the Wisdom of the Tao
- My Greatest Teacher (with Lynn Lauber)
- Staying on the Path
- The Shift
- Excuses Begone
- Wishes Fulfilled
- I Can See Clearly Now
- I Am (with Kristina Tracy)
- Incredible You! (with Kristina Tracy)
- It’s Not What You’ve Got! (with Kristina Tracy)
- No Excuses! (with Kristina Tracy)
- Unstoppable Me! (with Kristina Tracy)
- Ambition to Meaning (January 2009), rereleased as The Shift (April 2009) by Hay House
- Day & Night (2010), an animated short film creaed by Pixar, featuring an excerpt from one of Dyer’s lectures and voiced by Dyer, which was shown with Toy Story 3 (2010) during the latter movie’s opening in the U.S.
- Thomas Boswell (July 7, 2013). “To Bryce Harper and Davey Johnson, ‘play me or trade me’ is just a healthy joke”. The Washington Post. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
- Dan Coffey (2002). St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture. Gale Group7TV.
- Wayne Dyer and Oprah Winfrey – The Wisdom of the Tao (Full ed.). YouTube.
- “Author Biography”. Hay House.
- Wayne, Dyer. Group Counseling Leadership Training in Counselor Education. ProQuest. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
- “Wayne Dyer, author of ‘Erroneous Zones’, dies at 75”.Spokesman. September 1, 2015.
- Michael Korda (2001). Making the List: A Cultural History of the American Bestseller, 1900–1999. Barnes & Noble Publishing.
- “Nominees for the 83rd Academy Awards”. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved January 26, 2011.
- 38th Annual Annie Nominations – Winners noted in gold color
- Dan P. McAdams (2006). The Redemptive Self: Stories Americans Live by. Oxford University Press.
- Henlee Huxlee Barnette (1982). Exploring Medical Ethics. Mercer University Press.
- “Local News”. Boca Raton News. November 13, 2002.
- “Interview With New Age Retailer”. November 2005. RetrievedDecember 23, 2014.
- YouTube. YouTube. May 16, 2014. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
- Dyer, Wayne. Wishes Fulfilled, Mastering the Art of Manifesting.
- PBS. “PBS – Ombudsman – Pledging Allegiance, or March Madness?”. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
- THR, Esq. (May 24, 2010). “Self-help guru Wayne Dyer sued for stealing from Tao book”. Hollywood Reporter.
- Ellis, Albert (2010). All out!: An Autobiography. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. p. 485. ISBN 9781591024521.
- Ellis, Albert (2010). All out!: An Autobiography. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. pp. 486–490. ISBN 9781591024521.
- Dyer, Wayne W. (2012). “DVD no. 1 of 4-DVD set: Experiencing the Miraculous“.
- “Health & Wellness Articles – Anti Aging – Fitness – Detoxification – Inspiration – Mental Health – Nutrition – Medicine – Relationships – Weight Loss – Success – Anti Aging”. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
- “There’s A Spiritual Solution To Every Problem”. Retrieved June 6,2015.
- Aiello, McKenna (August 30, 2015). “Wayne Dyer Dead at 75—Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi and More Stars Remember Self-Help Guru”.E! Online News. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
- Johnson, M. Alex (August 30, 2015). “Self-Help Pioneer Dr. Wayne Dyer Dies at 75, Family and Publisher Say”. NBCNews.com. RetrievedAugust 31, 2015.
- “Day & Night: The Quote”. Pixar Talk. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
- Video link