Family Secrets

Family Secrets

Family Secrets. We all have them. And while the discovery of family secrets can initially be terrifying or traumatic, often these discoveries have the power to liberate, heal, and even uplift us. Join Dani Shapiro, bestselling author of the memoir Inheritance, and her guests as they explore astonishing family secrets and uncover the extraordinary lessons the truth can teach us.... Show More

Episodes

Dani and Gretchen respond to audience questions — including one from a former anonymous sperm donor, who wonders where his loyalties should lie after he’s asked not to tell one of his biological children the truth about her origins.

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On this special live episode of Family Secrets, recorded in Philadelphia in January, author and podcast host Gretchen Rubin interviews Dani about uncovering the family secret that became the subject of her bestselling memoir Inheritance: that her beloved father was not related to her by blood. Gretchen and Dani discuss the aftermath of that discovery — including what it was like to forge a connection with her biological dad — plus ...

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On part two of Dani’s conversation with Libby Copeland, Dani and Libby discuss the fallout on the other side of a major DNA revelation, and why DNA testing could make secrecy around a person’s origins a thing of the past.

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On this special bonus episode of Family Secrets, Dani speaks with Libby Copeland, author and journalist, about the psychological and emotional complexities that face families who have kept secrets, and families who have had secrets kept from them. This is an intimate conversation about the deepest parts of identity exposed by unexpected DNA results. 

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A writer and cancer survivor, leaning on lessons she learned while battling leukemia in her 20s, now helps others make meaningful connections as they adjust to life in isolation.

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Dani and Bessel respond to questions from the audience about trauma, and how art—and writing in particular—can help people heal.

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In January, Dani hit the road for a series of live conversations with some of her favorite writers, artists, and thinkers. Her first stop: Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where she sat down with renowned trauma expert Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score, for a discussion about how we move forward after traumatic events—a topic nobody could have predicted would apply to each and every one of us just a few months l...

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April 9, 2020 38 min

For years, Steven Romo just didn’t talk about the bleak landscape of his childhood—not with friends, and certainly not with his colleagues at the TV station where he works as an anchor. Until a headline that reminded him of his upbringing inspired him to open up about what he’s been through, giving everyone a glimpse at the pain he kept hidden beneath his polished, professional exterior. 

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In this special bonus episode, Dani speaks with Stephanie Wittels Wachs, actress, activist, and co-host of the hit podcast Last Day, which shines a light on the real human stories behind epidemics we usually only think about in terms of their staggering — yet seemingly abstract — statistics. Recording from their respective homes, Dani (sitting in her PJs in her son’s old room) and Stephanie (holed up in the closet that serves as he...

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April 2, 2020 35 min

Janny Scott grew up on an 800-acre British-style estate outside Philadelphia with a loving, gregarious father who was always the life of the party. But underneath her father’s light exterior was a darkness he struggled to keep at bay—a lifelong effort that would eventually cause him to self-destruct.

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March 26, 2020 34 min

When Axton Betz-Hamilton was in middle school, her family’s mail started going missing. Her parents told her that they’d been the victims of an identity thief, and that the perpetrator was likely someone close to them. Slowly, they began to shut out the world, enveloping Axton in a bubble of paranoia and secrecy—an atmosphere that didn’t allow her to see what was right in front of her until decades later.

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March 19, 2020 48 min

Growing up, Adam Frankel idolized his father and his father’s father, eventually following in their footsteps to become a successful speechwriter for politicians like John Kerry and Barack Obama. But at the age of 25, Adam discovered a truth that caused him to question everything—including his place in the lineage he’d molded his life around. 

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March 12, 2020 36 min

For most of her young life, Lisa Brennan-Jobs bounced back and forth between two very different homes—that of her mother, who raised Lisa alone for the first few years of her life and struggled to make ends meet; and that of her father, Steve Jobs, who lived exactly the way you’d expect the founder of a multimillion dollar tech company to but struggled to relate to the daughter he initially denied was his.

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March 5, 2020 46 min

Addiction breeds denial, in both the addict and his loved ones. And when that addiction comes wrapped in a busy, successful, ambitious package like Eilene Zimmerman’s ex-husband, a respected Silicon Valley attorney, it’s especially easy to ignore the warning signs. Until it’s too late.

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February 27, 2020 43 min

Emily Bernard never felt close to her judgmental, domineering father, who, for most of her life, denied he’d ever been unfaithful to her mother. It wasn’t until her dad’s sudden death that Emily began the process of getting to know the woman who caused her family so much pain: her father’s longtime mistress.

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February 20, 2020 43 min

What do you do when you suspect that your own brother is to blame for the seemingly random acts of violence sending shockwaves through the country? Do you keep it to yourself in order to protect him? Or do you turn him in, potentially saving the lives of hundreds of strangers, but putting him at risk of a death sentence? David Kacyznski talks about his impossible choice, and the unlikely friendship he forged in the wake of his brot...

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February 13, 2020 33 min

As a child, Ariana Neumann stumbled upon a strange photo of her father, tucked away in a secret box he kept in his workshop. It was undeniably him, and yet the name in the caption didn’t belong to the man she grew up with. Decades later, Ariana inherits this box and the documents it contains, using them to slowly chip away at the mystery of who her father really was and the lies he had to tell in order to survive.

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February 6, 2020 45 min

Even as a young child, Michael Hainey could sense that there was more to the story of his father’s death. But it wasn’t until he stumbled upon a small detail in an obituary—that his father died “after visiting friends”—that he began to understand the lengths those friends went to protect his father’s reputation, and to protect his family from the truth.

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January 30, 2020 4 min

Get ready for more inspiring, provocative, and moving conversations about identity, forgiveness, and the meaning of family, featuring incredible guests like David Kaczynski, the Unabomber’s younger brother, and Lisa Brennan-Jobs, Steve Jobs’s first-born. The new season of Family Secrets with Dani Shapiro launches next Thursday, February 6.

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January 23, 2020 8 min

In this bonus episode we hear from listeners in the Family Secrets community. To share your secret, call 1-888-SECRET-0. This January, Dani’s taking Family Secrets on the road. To get your tickets, visit danishapiro.com.

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