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Secrets of the Couch and the Grave: The Anne Sexton Case

  • Edmund D. Pellegrino (a1)

In 1991, Diane Wood Middlebrook, a professor of English at Stanford University, published a biography of the poet Anne Sexton in which, among other things, she used as source material some 300 tapes of Sexton's psychotherapeutic sessions with her psychiatrist, Dr. Martin Orne. After some years of reluctance and with the concurrence of Sexton's daughter and literary executor, Linda Gray Sexton, Orne released the tapes to Professor Middlebrook. Middlebrook's picture of Sexton drew heavily on the tapes, supplemented by scrapbooks, letters, photos, clippings, unpublished poems, and hospital records.

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DS Chaffin , RL Goldstein . The Anne Sexton case: protecting confidentiality? [Letter and Reply]. Psychiatric Annals 1992;22:586–7.

C Eisenberg . Confidentiality in psychotherapy—the case of Anne Sexton [Review of Middlebrook biography]. New England Journal of Medicine 1991;325:1451.

RL Goldstein . Psychiatric poetic license? Post-mortem disclosure of confidential information in the Anne Sexton case. Psychiatric Annals 1992;22:341–8.

AA Stone . Confidentiality in psychotherapy—the case of Anne Sexton. New England Journal of Medicine 1991;325:1450–1.

ED Pellegrino . Societal duty and moral complicity: the physician's dilemma of divided loyalty. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 1993;16:371–91.

BD Weiss . Confidentiality expectations of patients, physicians, and medical students. Journal of the American Medical Association 1982;247:2695–7.

M Siegler . Confidentiality in medicine—a decrepit concept. New England Journal of Medicine 1982;307:1518–21.

ED Pellegrino . HIV infection and the ethics of clinical care. The Journal of Legal Medicine 1989;10:2946.

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Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
  • ISSN: 0963-1801
  • EISSN: 1469-2147
  • URL: /core/journals/cambridge-quarterly-of-healthcare-ethics
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