Genius Or Snake Oil Salesman?

Good God – I’ve done it again! I went out and purchased yet another book – I’m officially out of control!!!!!

This time, my crime involves a book by Paul McKenna called “Change Your Life in 7 Days”.

McKenna is also the author of  such bold titles as “I Can Make You Thin”, “I Can Make You Smarter” and “I Can Make You Rich.”

To be honest, I have no idea why I bought this book except that “Change Your Life in 7 Days”  is such a DARN outlandish enticement that I had to check it out for myself. Also, the topic is related to my Journey To Happiness. If you want to get happier, you have to change your life in some ways, right? (okay, clutching at straws but I have to find a logical reason for buying the book!)

Anyways, I  jumped on Google the moment I got home and it turns out McKenna is a British dude  who – get this – used to be a DJ but who is now a master hypnotist and NLP practitioner. That was the moment when I first felt stirrings of misgivings. A DJ turned hypnotist????

Things took a turn for the worse when I happened upon a 2008 article by UK’s Daily Mail during my Google search ( why did I Google him after I had bought the book? Damnit!). The article had the disturbing title of “So Is Paul McKenna A Genius Or A Snake Oil Salesman?”

Apparently McKenna was responsible for getting talk show host Ellen DeGeneres to quit smoking and assisting Courtney Love to lose weight. His book, I Can Make You Thin, has helped turn him into a multi millionaire (in pounds, not dollars) but critics remain unconvinced.

Apparently Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority banned his advertising campaign for claiming to be ‘the most effective weight loss system available.Lose weight and keep it off.” The guys at the Authority seemed to feel there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that people using McKenna’s method would lose weight and stay trim forever… and I had just spent nearly RM70 on this guy’s book – uh oh!

Oh well, I suppose I should keep calm and carry on since I’ve already bought the book. Plus, in honour of my Journey To Happiness I really should withhold judgment and try to stay positive.

The book comes with a hypnosis CD (which you’re warned not to use while you’re operating heavy machinery i.e driving etc) as well as a DVD.I immediately downloaded the CD into my iPhone the moment I got home but I haven’t listened to it yet because I’ve been terribly busy today with 2 fashion articles for a women’s magazine. I still haven’t started on my third article, a property review, which I’m totally not looking forward to. It’s due tomorrow so I’ve got to get cracking on it but it’s going to be even more boring than it usually is because I’m writing it after the fun fashion pieces.

Gosh, I’m really not too chipper today am I?! Either way, I’m going to try the 7 Day thingee and see if I can’t do something amazing like stay cool when dealing with rude people in the service industry (really hard to do ‘coz I have a bit of a short temper).

But first….the dry, dull, dreary property review…sigh….

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4 Comments on “Genius Or Snake Oil Salesman?”

  1. I hate to say it but if you are going to quote the Daily Mail as a source of information your credibility goes out the window. As someone based in the UK who was familiar with Paul McKenna many years before his NLP work his story is way more interesting than selective presentation of facts.

  2. Trisha Rajah says:

    Hey, Debbie. As a non-UK resident, I’m not familiar with the Daily Mail and have no idea if it’s a good or horrible a source of info – I just happened to come upon the article during a general search on Paul and it seemed to be an interesting piece

    As I mentioned in my post, I’ve decided to withhold judgement. To be honest, I find his book and CD quite effective (am almost done with the 7-day program). So, Daily Mail or no Daily Mail, and as with all things, I make up my own mind and stand by what I believe.

    Either way, thanks for taking the trouble to give me feedback! Appreciate it.

  3. Steve says:

    The Daily Mail is a bit like the British equivalent of Fox News.

    As for Paul McKenna, like many self help guides, his books/cds basically provide fairly standard information dressed up as a unique “system” which you have to spend money on. The basic message is usually something extremely simple – you can be thin by essentially adjusting your eating habits; you can be confident by just reminding yourself of things you’ve done which are worthy of praise, etc.

    There’s nothing in these messages that’s revolutionary and the only time it works is when someone has the necessary willpower to make these changes in their life anyway. He doesn’t “reprogram” people, they do it themselves (or not in many cases, in which case they throw the book in the bin, but he still gets his money regardless).

    That’s all fair enough; the more unsavoury aspects to his character are the use of an unrecognised doctorate degree from an organisation in the UK that isn’t granted the status needed to award recognised degrees in the UK. He pretends this is a recognised doctorate by saying it’s accredited by a UK organisation (the BAC) which is irrelevant because the BAC doesn’t confer recognised body status on universities (the government does). The BAC simply accredits basic practical things like health and safety, the facilities and so on – it says nothing about the academic merit of degrees awarded there.

    Ultimately he’s not a doctor, or a scientist (despite his statements to the contrary) he’s basically a very good marketing man.

    • Trisha Rajah says:

      That’s the deal with self-help ‘gurus’ these days, isn’t it? Anyone and their brother can decide to spew advice and guidance on how to live a better life (fake doctorate and all). My take is that we need to exercise extra caution on what we decide to believe and the philosophies we decide to adopt.

      As for McKenna, I must say that I felt some of his hypnosis CDs actually work. I might be doing it myself as you point out, but the thing is, it gave me the kickstart I needed.


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