From Publishers Weekly
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. (Apr. 18)
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Everyone is said to have a private side they reveal to few if any others. That's human nature, says popular TV psychiatrist Saltz, and can function as a healthy clearing in the woods that nourishes creativity and maintains sanity. But a secret life can take on a life of its own and threaten not just its keeper's sanity but his or her marriage, career, public reputation, and, in extreme cases, the lives of others. Saltz cites as examples the secret lives of Charles Lindbergh, T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), and Dennis Rader, the BTK killer. Most secret lives aren't as dramatic as those, but they can be destructive nevertheless. Saltz profiles a handful of such secret lives (actually, composites drawn from the files of her practice) to illustrate how a secret life can begin innocently enough and mushroom into a destructive force. She also demonstrates how the secrets involved stemmed from unresolved childhood issues in what ends up as an argument for psychiatric intervention when a secret life goes out of control. Donna ChavezCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved