Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, whose best-selling 1976 book decrying the vice of blame and preaching the virtue of self-reliance, “Your Erroneous Zones,” propelled him to a prolific multimedia career of advice-giving and spiritual counseling, died over the weekend in Maui, Hawaii. He was 75.
He died late Saturday or early Sunday, his daughter Serena said. Dr. Dyer was known to have leukemia, but a spokeswoman for his publisher, Hay House, said the cause was a heart attack.
A popular lecturer and talk-show guest who was a particular favorite of Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Dyer believed in sovereign individualism, the eternal human soul and a nondenominational faith in a higher power — “God is the highest place within each and every one of us; it’s our divine self,” he told Ms. Winfrey — and taught that life is a much more controllable endeavor than many people think it is, or treat it as.
The author of more than two dozen books that sold millions of copies, he specialized in the self-help, how-to-live genre, with titles like “10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace,” “Manifest Your Destiny: Nine Spiritual Principles for Getting Everything You Want” and “Change Your Thoughts — Change Your Life.”
Many of his books were made into public television programs, and he also dispensed his thoughts on CDs, DVDs, streaming videos, calendars, online courses and a blog.
In a 2014 memoir, “I Can See Clearly Now,” Dr. Dyer wrote about how he came to understand one of the key tenets of his philosophy: that the past and future are essentially irrelevant to how we live because, after all, the past was once the present, as the future will one day be.
He recounted an episode from 1954, when he was 14 years old. After watching “The Tonight Show” one evening — it was hosted by Steve Allen at the time — he announced the next morning that he would someday speak with Mr. Allen on “The Tonight Show” himself. More than two decades later, after “Your Erroneous Zones” was published, he was booked on the show. Mr. Allen was no longer the host, but he happened to be at the studio making a phone call. It was an encounter that made a profound impression on him, Dr. Dyer wrote.
“As I walked past that phone bank and saw that I was about to make an appearance on ‘The Tonight Show’ with Steve Allen,” he wrote, “I had an immediate and almost overpowering sensation within me that I had actually created my own future by having such a strong knowing back when I was 14 years old. In fact, I am quite certain that time itself is much more of an illusion than we are capable of understanding with our body-mind.”
Wayne Walter Dyer was born in Detroit on May 10, 1940. His father, Melvin Dyer, left the family when Wayne was a toddler, and his mother, the former Hazel Irene Vollick, placed Wayne in foster care until he was about 10. He graduated from high school in Detroit and served four years in the Navy before returning to Detroit to continue his education. At Wayne State University’s college of education, he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and philosophy, a master’s degree in psychology and a Ph.D. in counseling.
By the mid-1970s Dr. Dyer was a psychologist on Long Island, an associate professor at St. John’s University in Queens and the author of two counseling textbooks. A literary agent, Arthur Pine, encouraged him to put his ideas about erroneous zones — his term for self-destructive behaviors, like regret and anxiety — into a book for popular consumption.
The result, “Your Erroneous Zones: Step-by-Step Advice for Escaping the Trap of Negative Thinking and Taking Control of Your Life,” had two main themes, as Dr. Dyer wrote in the introduction. The first was “You are the sum total of your choices.” The second was “There is only one moment in which you can experience anything, and that is now, yet a great deal of time is thrown away by dwelling on past or future experiences.”
The book sold more than six million copies around the world, but not before Dr. Dyer spent months peddling it himself — traveling around the country with copies in the trunk of his car, delivering lectures and doing local radio interviews. By 1977, he was giving what he called “lecture concerts,” including one at Carnegie Hall.
Dr. Dyer, who lived in Maui, was married three times and divorced twice. In addition to his daughter Serena, his survivors include his wife, the former Marcelene Rowan, from whom he was separated; five other daughters, Tracy, Stephanie, Skye, Sommer and Saje; two sons, Shane and Sands; two brothers, James and David; and nine grandchildren.
“My life really hasn’t changed dramatically, other than in some material ways — not monetarily necessarily,” Dr. Dyer said in an interview with The New York Times a year after “Your Erroneous Zones” was published. “I’m no longer going in to the university every day. I’m no longer seeing clients every day. I’m traveling more and I’m more in demand as a speaker. I’m speaking all around the world now rather than around New York and Long Island.
“The quality of my life hasn’t changed at all,” he continued. “The quality of my life has always been good because I’ve always made it good. When I was dirt poor as a little kid I can never remember being unhappy.”