William James? Gerald G. Jampolsky? Judy J. Johnson? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: Recently, I came across a quotation attributed to the famous philosopher and psychologist William James about the difficult task of changing one’s belief system. He stated that one must let the past slip away, and one must dissolve fears. I do not recall where I read this statement, and now I am not sure it was really from James. Would you please help?
Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive evidence that William James authored a matching quotation, and QI conjectures that the common misattribution is due to an error in a 2009 book. Details are given further below.
In 1979 psychiatrist and bestselling author Gerald G. Jampolsky published “Love Is Letting Go of Fear” which included the following passage. Emphasis added to excerpts: 1
The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds. This changed perception leads to the recognition that we are not separate, but have always been joined.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1981 (1979 Copyright), Love Is Letting Go of Fear by Gerald G. Jampolsky M.D., Chapter: Introduction, Quote Page 13, (Same text as 1979 Celestial Arts edition), Bantam Books, Toronto and New York. (Verified with scans) ↩