The Secret Life of Secrets

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In The Secret Life of Secrets, Michael Slepian reveals how secrets impact our minds, relationships and more, and gives strategies to make them easier to carry around with us. (photo/Rachel McDonald)

In The Secret Life of Secrets, Michael Slepian reveals how secrets impact our minds, relationships and more, and gives strategies to make them easier to carry around with us. (photo/Rachel McDonald)

Everyone keeps secrets. Things we’ve done that we are too ashamed or scared to share with someone else — or the secrets we keep for other people that aren’t ours to reveal. Our guest, Columbia University professor Michael Slepian, studies the psychology of secrets – why we keep them and the power they have over us.

He’s collected the secrets of 50,000 people for his keepingsecrets.org database and found 38 basic categories, including deception, desire, ambition, addiction, sex, trauma, finance, cheating (at work, school or on a romantic partner).  This episode, we talk about the kinds of secrets people keep and why, and the damage that living with secrets can do. Slepian has found that revealing our secrets can have surprising benefits. His latest book is The Secret Life of Secrets: How Our Inner Worlds Shape Well-Being, Relationships, and Who We Are.

Michael Slepian (@michaelslepian) is the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Associate Professor of Leadership and Ethics at Columbia University. A recipient of the Rising Star Award from the Association for Psychological Science, he is the leading expert on the psychology of secrets. Slepian has authored more than fifty articles on secrecy, truth, and deception.

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