The Power of Your Subconscious Mind: Review

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Power of Your Subconscious Mind" by Joseph Murphy. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Is Joseph Murphy’s The Power of Your Subconscious Mind worth reading? Do you believe that you can influence your subconscious mind with conscious thought?

In The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, Joseph Murphy argues that you need to align your conscious thoughts with a higher power and have faith that your life will dramatically improve. He supports his argument with anecdotes that demonstrate how people have applied their conscious thoughts to solve a variety of problems, create happiness, and improve their lives.

Here is a quick review of The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy.

About the Author

Dr. Joseph Murphy (1898-1981) was a pioneering voice in the New Thought movement (which we’ll explore further in the Intellectual Context section below). He was a bestselling author, renowned speaker, and Minister-Director of the Church of Divine Science, a religious faction within the wider New Thought movement. This religion’s core belief is that God is good, the source of all creation, and omnipresent. Further, this faction teaches that negative circumstances only come about when we fail to practice the presence of God—in other words, when we think and act in ways contrary to God’s inherent goodness. 

Murphy authored 36 books including:

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind was originally published in 1963 and has since been reprinted by various publishers including TarcherPerigee.

Intellectual Context

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind contributed to the New Thought Movement: A spiritual movement that promotes the idea that we’re all connected to a benevolent “higher power.” According to this movement, we must align our conscious thoughts with this power by thinking positively to achieve success and happiness. Otherwise, our negative thoughts block our access to this positive force and create illness and failure in our lives.

Murphy’s ideas are not necessarily new, and his success is partly due to the work of previous authors writing within the same genre. The premise that positive life experiences come from aligning your conscious thoughts and beliefs with a benevolent higher power has become increasingly popular since the publication of The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles in 1910. Wattles, like Murphy, asserts that your thoughts are the cause of your success, and offers advice on how to think constructively to create health, wealth, and satisfying experiences. Besides The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, other successful books in this genre include: 

The Book’s Impact

Published in 1963, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind has since been translated into 30 languages and sold millions of copies. It continues to be one of the most popular books in the self-improvement genre and has inspired influential self-improvement authors such as Tony Robbins (Awaken The Giant Within) and Brian Tracy (Eat That Frog!). Both Robbins and Tracy write about similar ideas—that you have an innate ability to achieve extraordinary success and can unleash your potential by training yourself to think positively.

Critical Reception

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind enjoys thousands of excellent reviews—the majority of reviewers have labeled this book as “inspiring” and “motivational” and have employed Murphy’s techniques to make dramatic improvements to their lives. 

However, some reviewers do find it difficult to take Murphy’s argument seriously—while he presents many anecdotal examples to demonstrate how people have improved their lives by employing his techniques, he doesn’t offer any scientific explanations to back up his statements. These reviewers find the book “weak on content,” “unconvincing,” and “too focused on religious concepts.” In addition, some reviewers find it difficult to move past the repetitive style of the book. 

Commentary on the Book’s Approach and Organization

Murphy organizes the material into 20 chapters to explain how improving your conscious thoughts can positively impact each area of your life: health, wealth, relationships, and success. However, the content of each chapter is largely indistinguishable from the content in others because each chapter simply reinforces one single concept—that your thoughts impact your life experiences. Because the chapters don’t progress to include any new explanations or research to back up Murphy’s argument, many The Power of Your Subconscious Mind reviewers note that the material suffers from repetition.

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind: Review

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Power of Your Subconscious Mind summary :

  • How your subconscious mind creates your life experiences
  • How to improve your life experiences by using your conscious mind to influence your subconscious
  • Why we're all designed to experience happiness

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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