Confidentiality and paradox: the location of ethical space



Implicit in Jung's alchemical metaphor of the vas bene clausum is the idea of an analytic frame with a space inside it for something vital, a relationship between two selves, to develop. For this to happen, analysts must respect their patients' rights to confidentiality. The paper explores the analyst's state of mind and the intrapsychic processes that are constellated when struggling with ethical dilemmas about issues of confidentiality in analytic work. The author suggests that at times when analysts consider breaking confidentiality, there is often a disturbing inner conflict between their moral principles (codes of ethics) and their internal personal ethical attitude. At these difficult moments, the mutuality of the work and the vas bene clausum can be significantly disrupted. The analyst tries to find a third position, a mental and emotional ethical space where the subjective and the objective, the ethical and the unethical can become more companionable bedfellows.