The distinguished contributors to Confidentiality probe the ethical, legal, and clinical implications of a deceptively simple proposition: Psychoanalytic treatment requires a confidential relationship between analyst and analysand. But how, they ask, should we understand confidentiality in a psychoanalytically meaningful way? Is confidentiality a therapeutic requisite of psychoanalysis, an ethical precept independent of psychoanalytic principles, or simply a legal accommodation with the powers that be?
In wrestling with these questions, the contributors to Confidentiality are responding to a professional, ethical, and political crisis in the field of mental health. Psychotherapy - especially long-term psychotherapy in its psychoanalytic variants - has been undermined by an erosion of personal privacy that has become part of our cultural zeitgeist. The heightened demand for public transparency has forced caregivers from all walks of professional life to submit to increasing bureaucratic regulation.
For the contributors to this collection, the need for confidentiality is centrally involved in the relationship of the psychotherapeutic professions both to society and to the law. No less importantly, the requirement of confidentiality brings a clarifying perspective to debates within the psychotherapeutic literature about the relationship of theory to practice. It thereby provides a framework for shaping a set of ethical principles specifically adapted to the psychotherapeutic, and especially to the psychoanalytic, relationship.
Linking general issues of privacy to the intimate details of psychotherapeutic encounter, Confidentiality will serve as a basic guide to a wide range of professionals, including lawyers, social scientists, philosophers, and, of course, psychotherapists. Therapy patients, policy makers, and the wider public will also find it instructive to know more about the special protected conditions under which one can better come to know thyself.