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Self-Help Pioneer Dr. Wayne Dyer Dies at 75, Family and Publisher Say

Dyer wrote "Your Erroneous Zones," a best-seller for 64 weeks, and claimed to have treated his own leukemia through remote "psychic surgery."
IMAGE: Dr. Wayne Dyer in a PBS promotional photo
Dr. Wayne Dyer in an undated PBS promotional photo.PBS

Dr. Wayne Dyer, the self-help guru whose best-seller "Your Erroneous Zones" was adopted by millions as a guide to better living, has died at 75, his family and publisher said Sunday.

Dyer died Saturday night in Maui, Hawaii, said Reid Tracy, chief executive of Dyer's publisher, Hay House. The cause of death wasn't immediately reported.

Dyer was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 2009 but claimed to have treated it with positive thinking, daily exercise and "psychic surgery" performed remotely by the Brazilian medium João Teixeira de Faria, better known as "John of God." He detailed the controversial treatment in an interview with Oprah Winfrey — for whom he was a friend and frequent guest for more than 30 years — in 2012.

Building on philosophies espoused by Krishna Rau, the Siddha Yoga founder who was known as Swami Muktananda, Dyer published "Your Erroneous Zones" in 1976. It cataloged the ideas he'd espoused as a counseling education professor at St. John's University in New York, and it shot to the top of the best-seller lists, where it stayed for more than a year.

Dyer became a media sensation, touring the U.S. and appearing on virtually every TV talk show.

Dyer grew up in Detroit and attended Wayne State University there. In a statement, Detroit Public Television said, "He will be truly missed."

Often promoted as "public television's favorite teacher of transformational wisdom," Dyer was a fixture on PBS for almost 40 years and became embroiled in a controversy over complaints beginning in 2006 that he was promoting a specific religious worldview in violation of PBS' editorial policies.

Michael Getler, PBS's ombudsman at the time, wrote in 2012 that it was "my sense" that Dyer's advocacy strayed outside PBS' editorial standards but that the PBS board disagreed with him.

Dyer's philosophy mixed New Thought self-actualization theory and nondenominational spirituality — which held up Jesus as an icon of self-reliance but stood away from religious institutions themselves as stifling bureaucracies.

He was sometimes accused of appropriating and simplifying other thinkers' work for a general audience. A lawsuit alleging that Dyer had stolen chunks of two books analyzing Buddhism by poet Stephen Mitchell was dismissed in 2011 (PDF).

For millions of readers around the world, however, Dyer's teachings were a key to sloughing off society's focus on guilt and clearing the mind to enable success.

Among those embracing Dyer was Winfrey, whose OWN network broadcast many interviews with and documentaries by him. A separate 2012 interview with Dyer was featured on the homepage of Winfrey's website Sunday evening.

The spiritualist magazine Mind Body Spirit regularly listed Dyer as one of the 10 most spiritually influential people in the world. He ranked eighth last year.

Dyer was separated from his third wife and had eight children.