Buried Secrets: Rememberance of Things Past, a Review by Christopher Perez

Savi McKenzie-Smith, a child, adolescent, and adult psychotherapist, takes time in her book, Buried Secrets: Rememberance of Things Past – Learning to Live with Those Unwelcome Feelings, to lend her readers each a glimpse of how her time practicing psychology led to an understanding of patterns amongst older adults tendencies to repress, recall, and react to recollections of things most people would hope to banish from thought altogether. Buried Secrets offers the reader an ability to trace back psychoanalytic therapy and how those we now consider to be older adults experienced mental health treatment during a time when such considerations were non-existent, taboo, or discounted in importance.

McKenzie-Smith brings the reader a unique contemplation of how one’s personal decisions to disclose information or keep secrets may have a greater impact throughout the lifespan that we ever realized. Furthermore, the emphasis on validating the thoughts, emotions, and life events of those celebrating older adulthood helps remind the reader that prejudice does indeed include ageism and the dynamics that come alongside being “forgotten.” Clinically, the author’s self-reported psychoanalytic approach to describing each of the case examples infuses a Freudian flavor into recent clinical considerations in the field of psychotherapy.

The author writes well-deserved reminders throughout the book of how those identifying within the range of older adulthood seem to be marginalized and treated for their life circumstances, as well as the resulting symptomatology, in a manner different than other generations. The author facilitates a sense of relatability across age groups through emphasizing that while each of our unique lived experiences may vary greatly, the general human tendency to draw upon, push away, or repress negative thoughts and emotions forever remains. The text also reminds each reader that such aversion is an inescapable facet of worldly existence.

Buried Secrets also lends the readers insight into how everything from dinner party discussions, to the ways in which one regulates emotions, change and remain influenced by the shortcomings of our past. This sentiment speaks to how we conceptualize rumination and may help lead readers to partake in a case study for each example provided.

Entirely, this book ends by reminding readers of information all too often forgotten or minimized when engaging in or completing psychotherapy: the values and skills, or “tools” as we would call them, learned througout the course of treatment are intended to be lifelong takeaways. It is a process that, despite the shortcomings or personal misunderstandings we may unveil, helps increase self-awareness for those seeking the help, while granting unique, undying opportunity for professionals in the field to re-think the challenges clients present with on a regular basis. McKenzie-Smith’s work shows us that while variance may exist in the presenting problems of one client to the next, it may be rooted deeper in the distorted perspectives, which are yet to be seen as such, of those seeking psychotherapeutic aid.


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