Friday, August 29, 2008

Is Public Privacy Possible?

Last session I managed to tell Dr. X. most of the things about my obsessive thoughts. It was extremely difficult, because he was the source and the subject of my thoughts. I was looking at my stats and saw that he had visited my blog a few times and looked and numerous sections (labels) in my blog. I became scared he would feel I was disrespectful to towards him in some of my posts.

Despite my earlier offer this year to let him read my blog, when he did I became scared I had disregarded that there are two of us involved in my therapy, and that I was too open about who I see him as, and how he and I interact. I was fearful that my blog crossed some boundary; that I exposed him more than I it was right for me to do. I could not stop worrying that I had destroyed our relationship.

He assured me I was always respectful; that that was part of my personality. I still feel unsure about whether I cross Dr./Patient boundaries in my blog posts. I feel my blog is immensely helpful to my mental health, but I also want to ensure I respect other people's privacy. I worry that he was just saying that to make me feel better. That is a problem for me, not trusting that people are saying exactly what they mean, that they are not placating me, rather than having an honest conversation with me.

I use my blog to augment my therapy with Dr. X. I have mentioned before that often it acts as a preparation tool. A sort of 'practice run' for the next therapy session I am going to (or sometimes that preparation takes place over and over, until I am able to say what I need to say). I also use my blog to debrief myself after a session.

I often wonder how much of my session I remember "correctly". I remember reading Irvin Yalom's "Every Day Gets a Little Closer: A Twice Told Therapy. In the book he recounts how he and a client wrote about each therapy session and then exchanged notes. In particular he was astounded by how different he and the patient saw the session. Things he felt were really important, the patient either ignored, or glanced over. Much of what the patient found helpful was the relationship between herself and her pdoc.

In my sessions I am often so emotional I cannot think straight. Writing reinforces things Dr. X and I discussed. There can sometimes be problems for me though, when I misread something in my session, or if my symptoms are bad and I am feeling 'paranoid'.

I place the word paranoid in quotations, because I am never sure if I am paranoid, or if what I sense, see, hear really happens. I really feel I have a gift/curse for picking up on small vocal cues and sounds, details, messages and body language that others miss, or do not recognize they are showing. My theory is that because my father was so unpredictable in his rage I learned to sense infinitesimally small cues and changes in his behaviour to prepare myself for the flight/fight/freeze response before things happened.

Something that might support this theory is when, in first year university, I volunteered for a study that was measuring the relationship between hearing and depression. I was extremely depressed at the time. They put me through a flurry of hearing tests and seemed to be astounded at what I could hear. They told me I could hear sounds in ranges that people were not supposed to be able to hear.

Anyways...back to Dr. X's privacy. I again want to assure my readers that I respect your privacy. Dr. X seemed surprised I knew he had visited. The only way I knew it was Dr. X. (or was pretty sure) it was him, (a particular person) was because of his particular server. It had shown up before when he looked at some of my paintings in a session.

You will notice I have two statistics sites,"Sitemeter" and "Statcounter". on my blog. One gives me information about numbers of visitors, where they come from (cities and countries, and how long they visit my site(these are not accurate and usually show as 0) . Sitemeter also tells me how people got to my blog, (e.g. what they googled to get here).

Statcounter provides a bit more information about which pages people viewed and things like that. In Sitemeter it supposedly shows the latitude and longitude of visitors, but please know that it is not accurate in terms of where people live. I was very concerned when I first signed up for it as it appeared anyone with Sitemeter could track the address of my IP.

Rest assured, I checked it out and that is not the case. For instance anyone who posts from Vancouver shows as living at one particular address, on the same street. I have tested this out with a couple friends, and even people I do not know who show up have the same Lat/ it is NOT GPS co-ordinates. In fact, my Lat/Long shows I live in the middle of the Fraser River miles from my house.

I have these stats counters on my site because I am an info junky. I find it interesting to see people from all over the world vi sting, to see how many people visit, because I want to know if I am keeping people's interest, or posting about things that people are interested in. My blog is about my therapy, but I also want to make it relevant to others.

If you have any questions about your privacy and these two statistics programs, please ask me, or add them to your own site and see for yourself what they provide. I believe if you click on their icon (at the bottom right of my blog) you can read more info about them.


Handsome B. Wonderful said...

That is a problem for me, not trusting that people are saying exactly what they mean, that they are not placating me, rather than having an honest conversation with me.

I'm the same way.

I just let my blog address slip to my therapist on Friday. I didn't mean too really but it just came out. I don't really talk about her on my blog but I'm concerned that I gave her too much power/trust.

The thing is that she knows more about me already than most people. And she assured me that it's not her place to tell me that she likes or not likes something that I wrote.

She did say though that if I talk about suicidal stuff that we would probably talk about it in the next session. Oh well I guess. I have to trust her.

sara said...

I'm just tremendously impressed that he bothered to look. One of the hardest things I ever did was show my psych something I had written (keep in mind also that most of the reason I even went to him was for help with my writing career), and he barely bothered to read it.

Aqua said...

You and I are very similar. I hope your worries about giving your therapist "too much power/trust" do not stop you from writing in the way you do. I love how honest you allow yourself to be on your blog. I try to be like that to. I think it's important.

Your worries about this would be a great topic for your blog and a great topic in a therapy session.

I am sorry your pdoc did that. I don't think some people get how simple actions like that feel like rejection to people who are already so vulnerable.

Keep writing in your blog. I love how you write. It is so intense and beautifully written.

Dr Shock said...

You're very respectful about your pdoc on your blog. Obvioulsy you use your blog to work things through as you will probably also do on other occassions and in other ways. I think your blog is very interesting in connection with your therapy.
Stats are part of the fun of blogging for me, couldn't live without them.
I use stats as well as google analytics.
Regards Dr Shock

sara said...

And also, one thing they repeatedly tell us in medical school is that while patients have complete confidentiality, doctors do not, and should never say anything to anyone if they absolutely don't want it to get out.

And thanks for your nice response. I always think that people only want to see the nice, interesting part of me - hear the medical stories, the adventure stories...which, I guess, is why I have the private, anonymous blog. It always surprises me to hear people read it. Your comment meant a lot to me here.

The Silent Voices in my Mind said...

aqua, that is awesome that he came to visit your blog. i think you've ben nothing but respective of him and his privacy. i love stats too. i keep an intensely close watch on my blog visitors because i'm worried people i talk about might read my blog. truly i have no interest in finding out private details about people but i am fascinated by any and all information i have access to. keep doingg what you're doing - you rock.

Aqua said...

Dr. Shock,
Thank you fro the response. It mirrors what my pdoc says, so I feel a bit more comfortable and confident that I a on the right path. (I love stats too)

I meant what I me your posts show your humanity, foibles, struggles, successes...everything. It makes your posts much more interesting to hear everything. Have you ever read a great book with prefect characters? No way. Every charcter has his/her strengths and weaknesses.

I believe one of the greatest and best developed literary characters ever is Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost. He is supposed to be pure evil. I spent most of the poem feeling intensely conflicted between being beguiled by his sorrowful "human" side, enthralled by his intelligence and wit and wondering what kind of person I was to side with Satan. Yikes!

I'm certainly not comparing you to Satan (ha, ha). I am saying interesting characters and people have good, bad, sorrow, happiness, failures and triumphs. I like to read about all the experiences people have.

You rock too! I see you opening up so much in your posts lately; taking brave steps towards honesty. I really am interested in your journey.