Secret Keeping: Overcoming Hidden Habits and Addictions
by John Howard Prin
New World Library

"If anybody knew about their secret lives, their good standing in the community would be destroyed—and they are fully aware of that."

Secrets have the power to manifest into a destructive lifestyle. Through vignettes, Prin establishes the devastation wreaked by secrets, while simultaneously providing a way out from the mental prison of anguish and shame that perennially gnaws through the human spirit. As an addict turned licensed drug and alcohol counselor, the author's experiences both as the "victim" and as a professional are undoubtedly trustworthy and relatable.

The text deep dives into negative habits that morph into shame and ultimately into a secret life and hidden identity that erodes one's physical, mental, and even emotional state. Compulsive behaviors that lead to a variety of secret lifestyles—from eating disorders, pornography, gambling, and substance abuse—are demonstrated throughout. Perhaps Prin's ability to relate with the suffering masses rather than simply preaching as a professional is what endears readers to the author. In one particular scene, the author envisions himself in a fit of rage toward his mother, which comes across as refreshingly raw and authentic.

With decades of living in fear as a secret keeper, the author's experiences are at the intersection of anecdotal evidence and science. While the narratives are stirring, the use of charts and diagrams to create a simple blueprint to follow is commendable. Prin's work would be incomplete without a psychological component to complement the scientific and emotional parts. Citing Freud and Jung, the author's "Human Development Chart and the Four Squares of Life" are highly interactive. These not only tackle the "what" of secret-keeping, but also the "how." From President Clinton to Jesse Jackson, Prin's charts show how secret keepers make up the majority of society. Highly informative, educational, and applicable, Prin's work is a must in all settings that focus on health and one's state of mind.

A 2020 Eric Hoffer Book Award Category Finalist

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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