Publisher description for Anatomy of a secret life : the psychology of living a lie / by Gail Saltz.


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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.




Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Secrecy -- Psychological aspects.