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Bollas, C. (2003). Confidentiality and Professionalism in Psychoanalysis. Brit. J. Psychother., 20(2):157-176.

(2003). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 20(2):157-176

Confidentiality and Professionalism in Psychoanalysis

Christopher Bollas

The year is 2006 and Welldone Furness, Member of the British Psychoanalytical Society, has been having a bad week. On Monday he received a letter from a patient's solicitor, informing him that his patient now demanded that he kindly fill in the questionnaire he had received a fortnight earlier from the patient's prospective employer, the RUNON Corporation. Furness's patient had ticked a question on the application ‘Have you ever received treatment for emotional or psychological problems?’ and RUNON had despatched a routine questionnaire asking for a diagnosis, a brief noninvasive description of the course of treatment, and a prognosis. Furness had sent RUNON what he privately called the BCP ‘Screw off’ document, but what in fact was a well-written detailed description of why none of its members could disclose confidential information to a third party; indeed, as the document made clear, RUNON's receipt of the BCP document was not to be taken as confirmation that the patient named was in fact one of Furness's patients, and that Furness and all members of the BCP were compelled to immediately notify the BCP in writing of any effort to gain information from a psychoanalyst treating any possible patient.

Felicity Dart, the patient's solicitor, demanded that the psychoanalyst nonetheless comply with RUNON, or hand over the clinical records which were the patient's property. Dart claimed that the analyst was in jeopardy of denying the patient the right to work and was liable for damages as the post for which the patient had applied was a senior executive position.

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