The first time we ever heard this term used was by Artho Witteman, a German psychologist who was visiting with us in the United Sates. The term “secret self” generally applies to secret primary selves because the disowned selves are by definition kept secret. From our understanding, a secret primary self is a self that operates on a regular basis in our life like any other primary self but in this case we are unaware that it is operating. This makes it even more powerful, and difficult to uncover, than an ordinary primary self. A disowned self is always breaking through – as though it were breaking out of prison - and making us do things that we don’t ordinarily do. In contrast, the secret primary self is always operating.
An example of this would be a man who prides himself on being a kind, loving and giving person but behind the scenes he is always controlling people by being nice and yet has no idea that he is doing this. In this case control itself is the secret primary. This same man might have a secret inner patriarch filled with rules for proper behavior in him and others but consciously he has no idea it is active in his life on an ongoing basis. His family and friends may well know it, but the carrier of the secret self can remain blind to it for a lifetime.