Louise Hay (born October 8, 1926) is an American motivational author and the founder of Hay House Publishing. She has authored several New Thought self-help books, but is best known for her 1984 book, You Can Heal Your Life.
Hay was born in Los Angeles to a poor mother who later remarried Louise’s violent stepfather. When she was about 5, Louise was raped by a neighbor. At 15 she dropped out of high school without a diploma, became pregnant and gave up her newborn baby girl for adoption on her 16th birthday.
She then moved to Chicago where she worked in several low paying jobs. She moved to New York in 1950, changed her name and began a career as a fashion model. She found success, working for Bill Blass, Oleg Cassini and Pauline Trigère. In 1954, she married the English businessman Andrew Hay. After 14 years of marriage, she was devastated when he left her for another woman.
About this time she found the First Church of Religious Science where she began to learn the transformative power of thought. She studied the New Thought works of authors Florence Scovel Shinn, who claimed that positive thinking could change people’s material circumstances, and the Religious Science founder Ernest Holmes, who taught that the body could be healed through positive thinking.
In the early 1970s, Louise became a Religious Science practitioner. She became popular as a workshop leader, leading people in spoken affirmations which she believed would cure their illnesses. During this time, she also studied Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at the Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa.
In 1977, she found out that she had cervical cancer. She concluded that her resentments about her childhood abuse and rape had contributed to her cancer. She refused conventional medical treatment and began a regime of forgiveness, coupled with therapy, nutrition, reflexology and occasional enemas. She claims that she was able to rid herself of the cancer, but no doctor has been able to confirm her story.
In 1976, she wrote her first book Heal Your Body, which began as a small pamphlet, containing a list of different bodily ailments and their “probable” metaphysical causes. This pamphlet was later enlarged and extended into her book You Can Heal Your Life, published in 1984.
Around this same time, she began leading support groups for people living with H.I.V. or AIDS which she called “Hay Rides”. These grew from a few people in her living room to hundreds of men in a large hall in West Hollywood. Because of her work with AIDS patients, in March 1988, she was invited to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Donahue in the same week.
Following her appearances, You Can Heal Your Life immediately landed on the New York Times best-seller list. More than 35 million copies are now in print around the world in over 30 languages. The book has also has been made into a movie. You Can Heal Your Life is also included in the book 50 Self-Help Classics for being significant in its field.
In 1984, Louise Hay established Hay House Publishing, which is the primary publisher of books and audio books by Deepak Chopra and Doreen Virtue, as well as many books by Wayne Dyer. Hay House also publishes the teachings of Abraham, channeled through Esther Hicks. In addition to running her publishing company, Hay runs a charitable organization called Hay Foundation, which she founded in 1985.
In 2008, a movie about Hay’s life was released, entitled You Can Heal Your Life. On the movie’s official website, she states: “This movie is the story of my life, my teachings, and how I’ve applied the principles of my teachings to my own life.”
The movie also features Gregg Braden, Wayne Dyer, Gay Hendricks, Esther & Jerry Hicks, Doreen Virtue. It was directed by Emmy Award winning director Michael Goorjian
- You Can Heal Your Life. Hay House Inc., 1984
- Heal Your Body: The Mental Causes for Physical Illness and the Metaphysical Way to Overcome Them. Hay House Inc., 1984
- The Power Is Within You. Hay House Inc., 1991
- Inner Wisdom: Meditations for the Heart and Soul, 2000
- The Adventures of Lulu: Three Stories to Help Build Self-Esteem and Courage in Children, 2005