PERSONAL: Married; children: three daughters.
ADDRESSES: Home— New York, NY.
CAREER: Writer, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, commentator, columnist, relationship expert, and educator. New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine, associate professor of psychiatry. New York Psychoanalytic Institute, psychoanalyst; psychoanalyst in private practice, New York, NY. Guest on television programs and networks, including Today (National Broadcasting Company), Lifetime Live, (Lifetime), Biography (Arts and Entertainment), the Oprah Winfrey Show, Dateline, the Early Show, Columbia Broadcasting System News, Fox News, and the Cable News Network and American Broadcasting Companies networks.
Becoming Real: Defeating the Stories We Tell Ourselves That Hold Us Back, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Amazing You!: Getting Smart about Your Private Parts, illustrated by Lynne Cravath, Dutton Children’s Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Anatomy of a Secret Life: The Psychology of Living a Lie, Morgan Road Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Changing You: A Guide to Body Changes and Sexuality, illustrated by Lynne Cravath, Dutton Children’s Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Author of weekly relationship column, MSNBC.com.
Contributor to periodicals, including Good Housekeeping and Parade.
Glamour, former contributing editor.
SIDELIGHTS: Psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, columnist, and commentator Gail Saltz is the author of books for both children and adults. In Amazing You!: Getting Smart about Your Private Parts, Saltz and illustrator Lynne Cravath offer an upbeat, straightforward introduction to human reproductive anatomy and childbirth aimed at preschool and early-grade readers. The book is “designed as much to allay parental anxiety as to provide answers to younger children’s questions,” observed a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Saltz describes the male and female anatomy using specific anatomical terms, avoiding euphemisms, and details the development of the human body from childhood to adulthood. Simplified explanations of conception and development help children understand what, to many, is one of the world’s most perplexing questions: where do babies come from? Saltz “presents the information clearly in a cheerful, positive tone,” encouraging children to learn about the human body, noted Gillian Engberg in Booklist. Saltz also provides authoritative guidance for parents facing the daunting task of explaining such issues to their children. Saltz and Cravath offer youngsters and preschoolers a “comfortable and positive jumping-off point for frank discussions of bodies and birth,” commented reviewer Lauren Adams in Horn Book Magazine.
Saltz’s books for adults concentrate on issues such as overcoming self-imposed obstacles to personal growth and reworking lives that have fallen into the constraints of too many secrets and lies. Becoming Real: Defeating the Stories We Tell Ourselves That Hold Us Back explores how most people live according to stories they devise about themselves and others during childhood, and how the deeply ingrained beliefs reinforced by those stories can be severely limiting to adults. Saltz notes that people craft stories of self that ascribe one of five major traits to themselves: dependent, superachiever, self-defeater, competitor, or perfectionist. These descriptions become unconscious motivators of behavior, Saltz asserts, and can lead to nonproductive, sometimes even self-destructive acts in adults whose experiences with themselves and the world are often in conflict with the stories and descriptions that they use to define themselves. Saltz suggests that persons hindered by these descriptors identify how their self-told stories are limiting them in their current lives and then literally rewrite the stories to bring them into conformity with desires and reality. Saltz provides “specific and clear” instructions for change “based on psychoanalytic technique that will take time and commitment,” observed a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
In Anatomy of a Secret Life: The Psychology of Living a Lie, Saltz reveals the tremendous psychological costs of keeping secrets and shows how lives confined by too many secrets and lies can become intolerable and destructive. She notes that having and keeping some secrets can be a healthy part of psychological development, especially for children. However, she cautions that excessive reliance on secrets can lead to pathological conditions, including living what are essentially multiple lives that do not, and cannot, intersect. She looks at famous individuals who led such lives, including T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), Charles Lindbergh, and Peter Tchaikovsky, as well as serial killers such as Dennis Rader, the “BTK Killer.” She profiles a variety of addicts, cheaters, and killers that kept secrets from themselves and others, developing alter egos and clearly defined boundaries between one life and the other. Lynn Harris, writing in the New York Times Book Review, commented that Saltz is “detailed and thoughtful in her inquiry” and that she “writes with eloquence and sophistication.” A Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded: “This book serves as a cautionary tale of how a secret is formed, lived, justified—and eventually exposed.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
Booklist, June 1, 2005, Gillian Engberg, review of Amazing You!: Getting Smart about Your Private Parts, p. 1817; March 15, 2006, Donna Chavez, review of Anatomy of a Secret Life: The Psychology of Living a Lie, p. 13.
Horn Book Magazine July-August, 2005, Lauren Adams, review of Amazing You!, p. 491.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2005, review of Amazing You!, p. 546.
New York Times Book Review, April 16, 2006, Lynn Harris, “Don’t Tell—The Psychiatrist Gail Saltz Says Secrets Can Be Good for You (and Not So Good),” review of Anatomy of a Secret Life.
Publishers Weekly, April 19, 2004, review of Becoming Real: Defeating the Stories We Tell Ourselves That Hold Us Back, p. 53; February 27, 2006, review of Anatomy of a Secret Life, p. 52.
School Library Journal, May, 2005, Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, review of Amazing You!, p. 116.
Gail Saltz Home Page, http://www.drgailsaltz.com (December 13, 2006).
Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ (December 13, 2006), biography of Gail Saltz.