The Curious Catharsis of PostSecret

Feb 4, 2016 at 3:12 pm |

“Secrets can take many forms: they can be shocking, or silly, or soulful; they can connect us with our deepest humanity, or with people we’ll never meet.”

For over ten years, PostSecret has been the secret keeper – and sharer – of millions of anonymously submitted secrets otherwise never spoken by the lips of those who once possessed them.

Founded on January 1, 2005 by Frank Warren, the PostSecret website was the viral result of a project Warren initiated in 2004 when he handed out 3,000 blank, pre-addressed envelopes that urged strangers on the streets of Washington, D.C. to share a previously untold secret.

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Source: Instagram @postsecret

The science of secrets has long fascinated researchers and secret-keepers alike. Whether the cause of a stifling sense of suppression or the tool used to gain another’s trust, the risky decision of whether or not to tell someone a secret can either result in a disastrous collapse of confidence or the cathartic feeling of being heard and, therefore, mattering.

Social experiments conducted by James Pennebaker in the late 1970s led to the first of many papers that proved that telling a secret or writing about secret traumatic events physically and mentally improved the health of those who finally opened up about their stories. But why?

This was the thought process of PostSecret creator Frank Warren, who himself became a master secret keeper and sharer.

What is it about keeping and telling secrets that has kept PostSecret successful more than 10 years later?