Writing about patients III: Comparisons of attitudes and practices of analysts residing outside and within the USA

Int J Psychoanal. 2004 Jun;85(Pt 3):691-712. doi: 10.1516/002075704774200816.


When analysts write about patients, they find themselves in a position of conflict. Their first loyalty is to their patients and maintaining confidentiality. However, they are also committed to advancing scientific knowledge in the psychoanalytic field. The attitudes and practices of 36 analysts residing outside the USA, who published articles using clinical material from their patients, are reported. Their attitudes and practices are compared with those of 30 author-analysts residing within the USA, who had been previously interviewed. Among the 66 analysts, geographic region was not a basis for distinguishing differences in attitudes or practices. Slightly more than twice as many analysts use only disguised material as regularly ask permission of their patients to write about them. The decision to use only disguise is somewhat more frequent for analysts who reside outside the USA than for those living within it. Analysts around the world are increasingly concerned about the accessibility of published material. More analysts have come to believe that it is necessary to ask permission before publishing material. Some analysts also believe that the request itself, and the patients reading written material about themselves, focus issues that are central to patients' characters and conflicts that can then be explored analytically.

MeSH terms

  • Confidentiality*
  • Data Collection
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Internet
  • Psychoanalysis / trends*
  • Publishing*
  • Writing