Oprah’s Role in Promoting Self-help “Gurus”

James Ray

Many readers here at SEEK Safely may have read Jean’s open letter to Oprah, regarding her silence on James Ray. Jean recently published a follow-up to that letter, which originally appeared on her blog, the self-styled life. Here it is! 

About 3 1/2 months have passed since I posted my open letter to Oprah. Many people have asked me for a follow-up, so here it is. My sincerest thanks again to all who shared this message! Some amazing things happened: 

  • Thanks largely in part to family and friends sharing the letter on Facebook, it reached over 10,000 people in just 3 days, and it continues to draw a lot of traffic.
  • There were a number of interesting comments on the post, including messages of enlightenment–people learning of this story for the first time, noting that they will now reconsider how they approach their self-improvement journey. This makes me so happy, because spreading this message was really the main goal of the letter.
  • I was interviewed by KPHO, a CBS Arizona TV station, to discuss my reasons for writing the letter.

But then again, not much has happened:

  • Oprah has yet to respond. It’s very possible (and likely) that she personally has not seen the letter, although I’m sure some in the Oprah empire have, given that…
  • …messages I posted to her website and on social media have been deleted or simply never posted. This includes the comment I tried to add to the page that discusses James Ray’s first appearance on Oprah, which fails to mention that he later killed 3 people. The page is STILL there, no warning or anything.

*** I have also had an opportunity to reach James Ray. He hosted an open “Ask James Anything LIVE” webinar in June. I used the occassion to ask a number of questions that I have for him. But he ignored those questions, and I was quickly removed from the webinar. lace front wigs He did address a more generic question: why should anyone trust him after what happened in Sedona in 2009? His response was to point to the fact that none of us is blameless. We’ve all made mistakes. “Haven’t you ever gotten a little carried away?” he asked. And then he went on to say that while everyone has to make up his own mind whether or not to trust him, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to learn from someone who’s made mistakes and overcome them? Yeah, he actually used the phrase “carried away” in reference to the fact that his actions led to the death of 3 people…

Despite this appearance of “access,” James Ray’s world is a very closed and controlled one. I fear that people who come under his influence without knowing what happened will never see or hear the truth about him.


While I was overjoyed by the response to the letter, the problem still exists: James Ray continues to operate in much the same ways he did before Spiritual Warrior 2009 (he even hosted his first in-person, paid event in August, and has more planned), and Oprah continues to promote other questionable characters in the self-help world.

Oprah herself has become somewhat of a self-improvement guru–clearly she has found this trajectory, rather than celeb interviews or pop culture discussions, to be the most popular. At the end of the letter, I implored Oprah to use her voice to help us be Kirby’s voice–to spread the message that anyone seeking guidance from the self-help industry needs to look for the truth behind their chosen guide. But silently I wondered if maybe the business of promoting untruths is just too profitable. At the time I penned the letter, I decided this question was too aggressive. But given the lack of response, it seems it’s the only question that matters.

2 comments on “Oprah’s Role in Promoting Self-help “Gurus”

  1. Romeo Ballayan on

    It’s 5 am and i stumbled across an episode about this event and then started searching and stumbled across this organization. I am sorry for your pain. I think there is something here to be learned from all sides.

    Conditioning is a part of the human culture.

    Brainwashing is extremely easy.

    Cults prove this fact.

    People are more sheep than shepherd.

    And everyone wants to believe in something: modern day form of idol worship.

    Now I am a social worker, have written a self help book, and provide therapy.

    You can’t stop people who manipulate others but you can raise awareness for those who seek power outside of themselves. Your mission will go much further in my opinion than wanting to silence James Arthur Ray or get Oprah to respond. She doesn’t need to respond. The outcome of his life is response enough. He is imperfect as much as the people who blindly followed him. This doesn’t mean he can’t ever grow from this space. That idea is simply not sustainable.

    You may need to release your attachment to him and focus on your mission. You can’t change or control him and those who will be impacted by him will. But those who will be impacted by YOU will as well and that should be your focus. This is how you honor the passing of your beloved. Don’t allow grief to blind your purpose.

    Follow others who inspire you but do not idolize them. I think this is the 🔑

    Be blessed.

    Romeo Ballayan

  2. Cele on

    Sadly, its true. Now the eckhart/oprah commercialization of a wonderful spiritual premise Is the latest exploitation of our most vulnerable and susceptible. Something about has always given me pause. At its core the Oprah dynasty exploits while cunningly upholding a glossy exaggerated generosity. “If you’re not on board w law of attraction then too bad…you want to remain a victim” Still victim blaming from on high.


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