#SharedSecrets: Episode 25

The Secret to Cultivating a Healthy Mind with Dan Siegel


Dr. Dan Siegel is a neuropsychiatrist, which means he spends his days researching how the brain works and what it means to be human—you know, the light stuff. After spending months interviewing people about the liberating and life-changing effects of sharing their deepest secrets, I wanted to ask Dan: How does keeping a secret change the body and brain? He graciously agreed to let me pick his brain for this episode to find the answer.

Dan says secrecy and shame can have deep and profound effects on the brain and our well-being. In the episode, he describes the way a secret can function as a “black hole” that sucks up our vitality and peace of mind, and shares how these black holes can worsen the effects of trauma and betrayal. As a mom, I was especially interested in hearing his take on how a deeply held secret can sully our kids’ early impressions of how the world works.

In the episode, Dan also tells us some good news: It’s never too late to cultivate a healthy mind free of secrecy and shame, and he shares an inspiring story of a 92-year-old man who did just that. He also provides some practical tools to help us dissolve shame about our traumas, make peace with our bodies and live a life of well-being and ease.

More about Dan: Dr. Dan Siegel is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and the founding co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA. He is also the Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute, which focuses on the development of mindsight, which teaches insight, empathy, and integration in individuals, families and communities. Dr. Siegel has published extensively for both the professional and lay audiences. His four New York Times bestsellers are: Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human, Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, and three books with Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D: The Whole-Brain Child, No-Drama Discipline and the upcoming The Yes Brain (2018). His other books include: The Developing Mind (2nd Ed.), Mindsight, The Mindful Brain, and The Mindful Therapist. Dr. Siegel also serves as the Founding Editor for the Norton Professional Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology, which contains over 50 textbooks.