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Two Diverse Sources Agree on the Power of Confession

Two diverse sources—ancient Christian monasticism and modern psychology—agree on at least one thing: keeping dark secrets can destroy us, and confessing them can set us free. The fifth century Christian spiritual leader John Cassian claimed that "as soon as a wicked thought has been revealed [to God and at least one other Christian] it loses its power." The demonic stronghold of sin is "drawn out as it were into the light from its dark and [deep] cave by the power of the confession …. For [Satan's] harmful counsels hold sway in us as they lie concealed in our heart."

Nearly 1,500 years later, a contemporary textbook on psychology reached a similar conclusion (although note Cassian's emphasis on sin and demonic strongholds). The book Coping with Stress claims that "people who tend to keep secrets have more physical and mental complaints, on average, than people who do not … [including] greater anxiety, depression, and bodily symptoms, such as back pain and headaches." Like Cassian, this book also argues that finding healthy places to share our secrets leads to freedom: "The initial embarrassment of confessing is frequently outweighed by the relief that comes with the verbalization of the darker, secretive aspects of the self."

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