Anatomy of a Secret Life: The Psychology of Living a Lie

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Morgan Road Books, 2006 - Psychology - 205 pages
1 Review

Signs of a Secret Life

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 goes on inside another’s head and heart is essentially a secret. How do we know if that secret is something that will hurt us? There are signs, and we don’t always want to recognize them. The following behaviors might be cause for concern:

Exhibiting a moody, nervous, hair-trigger temper over small things

Acting beleaguered for no reason

Complaining about physical problems with no medical explanation—headache, stomachache, back pain, intestinal trouble

Spending unaccounted-for time on the phone, or making calls from an unusual room in the house—like the bathroom

Gail Saltz takes us into the mind of the secret keeper to show readers how it starts, where it goes wrong, and how (and why) the secret will always come out.

What do these people have in common?

The traveling businessman who brings prostitutes back to his hotel room

The wealthy woman who is arrested for shoplifting

The seemingly happily married man who cruises gay clubs

They are all—despite differences in degree, gender, and age—living a double life, one of our most deeply ingrained, but poorly understood psychological drives. Now, Dr. Gail Saltz steps into the breach to explore —in detail and based on the latest research—our impulse to create and nurture alter egos.
Saltz reveals how assuming a different identity can be healthy and tremendously liberating. For proof, we need look no further than the innumerable people who reinvent themselves by moving to the big city, or the countless pseudonymous bloggers. But, as she also makes clear, leading a secret life comes with potentially serious psychological risks. She shows that, in more extreme cases, leading a secret life can have devastating emotional, social and familial consequences—both for the person leading the secret life, and for those close to him or her.
The definitive popular work on how a secret life is formed, lived, justified, and exposed, Saltz’s Anatomy includes contemporary case studies and historical examples (Lindbergh, T. E. Lawrence, Tchaikovsky, et cetera) of people who have risked it all for a taste of forbidden fruit.

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Review: Anatomy of a Secret Life: The Psychology of Living a Lie

User Review  - Ryan - Goodreads

Pop psychology written in a terse and severe tone to hide the author's dated reliance on psychodynamic theory. The anecdotes are good, however, and I admire anyone who tries to explain the assholes in my life. Just ditch Freud for the next edition, Dr. Saltz. Read full review


The Secret Life of the Mind
The Secret Life of Everyone
The Secret Life of the Lover

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About the author (2006)

GAIL SALTZ, M.D., a psychoanalyst and clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Weill-Cornell School of Medicine, is a weekly contributor to the Today show. She is a frequent guest on Oprah and has written for Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Parade, and more. Dr. Saltz lives and works in New York City.

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