We think we know those who are close to us, and we want to believe that what we see is what we get. But we can never know for certain, because what really goes on inside another’s head and heart is essentially a secret. How do you know if that secret is something that will hurt you?
Your husband turns to face you in bed. Is he thinking about you or your closest friend?
Your boss shows up in another new outfit. Did she get a raise or is she a compulsive shopper who is stealing money from the company?
Your teenaged daughter is upstairs in her bedroom. Is she doing her homework or chatting online with a man twice her age?
Anatomy of A Secret Life will take you inside the minds of secret-keepers and show you how secrets start, how they’re kept, and how they exact their devastating emotional and social toll. Using contemporary case studies and historical examples, Dr. Gail Saltz shows you how to spot—through subtle behaviors and clues—and safely stop the potentially dangerous secrets that someone, even you, might be concealing from the world.
Says Saltz, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Weill-Cornell School of Medicine and a Today show regular, "Secrets... are maddening, thrilling, dangerous.... And every day, secret-keepers keep on doing what they do: living one life, and then living another." Creating and nurturing a secret self can be a psychologically normal part of a child's development, but when do secrets become destructive? Saltz takes us on an engrossing and voyeuristic journey through the secret lives of several people, some composites from her psychoanalytic practice: a lonely teen whose secret Internet life becomes deadly; a man whose wife catches him cheating the IRS; a woman shoplifting in her 50s. Even more fascinating are the accounts of famous secret-keepers: Charles Lindbergh, Tchaikovsky, T.E. Lawrence and sociopath killers like Dennis Rader (the "BTK" killer), among others. The difference between keeping a secret and living a secret life is one of degree, says Saltz, and the most malignant secrets are the ones that remain in our unconscious, causing us to repeatedly act out. While most people's secrets aren't as dramatic as the stories related here, this book serves as a cautionary tale of how a secret is formed, lived, justified and eventually exposed.