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Legal and ethical dilemmas related to confidentiality in psychotherapy

26 July 1999


Privacy is a familiar concept in Western society. Our back yards are separated by "privacy fences." Opera houses and stadiums have "private boxes." The media, from current newspaper stories to recent cinema, is littered with references to "the right to privacy." For example, the 1998 film The Truman Show fascinated us with its depiction of Truman, a man whose every living minute was filmed and viewed by the rest of the world. Audiences enjoyed the sense of voyeurism as they watched Truman brush his teeth, go to work, even sleep through the night. Paradoxically they cheered in the final scene as Truman realizes he is being filmed and runs away, effectively claiming his privacy. The film is illustrative of the complexity of privacy and the strong emotions it evokes in us.


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