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‘Saucy Secrets’ Could Shame Psychiatry

April 16th, 2005

Dr Petra

Although my professional guidelines forbid me from discussing celebrities with the media, it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy gossip about the rich and famous.

But a story in the latest copy of ‘Now’ magazine has given me cause for concern.

In their celebrity gossip column, one of their ‘Saucy Secrets’ snippets says ‘Psychiatrists don’t often dump clients for being too needy, but this one did after too many drunken late-night calls from her troubled celebrity patient’.

Obviously the reader’s task is now to identify who the ‘troubled celebrity patient’ might be.

I’m more interested in the psychiatrist.

Ethical standards for psychiatrists (as will clinical or counselling psychologists, or medics), means patient confidentiality is paramount.

The ‘troubled celebrity patient’, their agent, or PR people could have tipped off ‘Now’. But the magazine ought to have had the sense not to print the gossip. After all, whether you’re famous or not, you’ve the right to confidential mental health care should you need it. Snippets like this will only make people afraid to seek help. If you can’t trust a psychiatrist, who can you trust?

Supposing though, something more terrible happened? What if the psychiatrist herself tipped off the magazine? That most surely is a disciplinary offence. Nobody should be allowed to practice psychology, psychiatry or medicine, if they breach patient trust in such a way.

As with all gossip, let’s hope this isn’t true. But if it is, let’s hope a future ‘Saucy Secret’ reads something like ‘what psychiatrist is being investigated for breach of celebrity client confidentiality?’

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