Norman Vincent Peale – The “Positive Thinking” Progenitor

You surely already heard about the power of positive thinking. If you are currently using such a life belief, thinking that positive thinking helps you to succeed, you will need to thank Dr. Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993), author and minister. His book, The Power Of Positive Thinking is still seen as a memorable read that managed to help thousands of people till now. Peale wrote many different books and there was even a TV show that was built around his beliefs.

norman vincent peale

Controversy And Criticism

Just as with all visionaries that came up with new life theories, Norman Vincent Peale was heavily criticized by many. The main concern was that the books written are just filled with anecdotes and that they cannot be substantiated. Most experts believe that there is no philosophy behind the claims and the lack of sources was always something that was brought up by critics.

The second accusation is that the techniques that he had were similar to that of hypnosis and that he tries to persuade readers to follow beliefs through false evidence and self-hypnosis. Techniques are not currently debated by psychologists but many still believe that hypnosis is what actually makes the books successful.

Some criticized Peale because his philosophy is using exaggerated fears, making followers more afraid than they were. This is believed to lead to aggression. We even have some theological critique that appeared as Peale was labeled as a heretical character by many because of the positive thinking teachings.


You can imagine that anything based on positive thinking as a way of life would bring in criticism. However, people were clearly divided when it came to his teachings. Reverend Billy Graham for instance was one of those that praised the work of Norman Vincent Peale. He even stated that he did a lot for God’s kingdom, more than anyone else in history.

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After his death there were many that praised his work and his devotion towards people in America. We have to say that he was a controversial character that was clearly surrounded by anecdotes but that managed to bring forth a new way of being for countless people, not only from the US.