© 2002

The Psychology of Secrets


Part of the The Plenum Series in Social/Clinical Psychology book series (SSSC)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Anita E. Kelly
    Pages 1-22
  3. Anita E. Kelly
    Pages 23-39
  4. Anita E. Kelly
    Pages 41-65
  5. Anita E. Kelly
    Pages 67-79
  6. Anita E. Kelly
    Pages 101-127
  7. Anita E. Kelly
    Pages 129-159
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 219-263

About this book


On an MTV special aired in 2000, young interviewees were asked to confess the worse thing they were ever told during a romantic breakup. One person tearfully responded "that I suck in bed. " More recently, an acquaintance of mine admitted to his new girlfriend that he "has a mean streak. " She decided not to date him after that. Another memorable and painful example of openness occurred years ago when I served as a member of a suicide intervention team. I was called to a very disturbing scene in an upscale neighborhood to console a woman who was threaten­ ing to take her life on the lawn in front of her children. Her husband had just confessed his long-term affair to her that morning and she felt that her world was coming apart. Fortunately, she did not take her life but was left with the humiliation of haVing her neighbors know about her private troubles. The question these examples bring to mind is, "Why do people so often reveal potentially stigmatizing personal information to others?" The reader probably has an intuitive answer to this question already. It can seem like such a burden-even torture-to keep secrets from other people. Hiding such things as feelings of discontent from a boyfriend or girlfriend, violations of the law from close friends, and indiscretions from employers can be alienating. People want others to know them; therefore they often end up disclosing self-incriminating information.


Therapeut nature psychology psychotherapy

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of Notre DameSouth BendUSA

Bibliographic information


From the reviews:
"This book comprehensively delves into the psychological positives and negatives of revealing ones personal secrets. [...] The author is a credible researcher and educator, and her expertise is evident. A comprehensive understanding of the inner working of secrets is provided. Readers are given new insights into why we reveal our deepest and most hidden thoughts. Highlights include the basic definition of secrecy, problems that lead to secrecy, and secrecy in psychotherapy. I especially enjoyed the chapter on the health benefits of revealing. This book is worthwhile to read and review and will be of value to social and clinical psychologists. Despite the cost, I see it possibly as a supplementary text for advanced graduate level psychology courses. This book is recommended for those seeking strong research on the psychology of secrets."
(Nicholas Greco IV, M.S. Abbott Laboratories)
"Anyone interested in the nature of communication in friendships, intimate relationships, or psychotherapy will find the author's many insights both edifying and useful. Highly recommended for readers at all levels."
(Choice, September 2002)