ABSTRACT

The publication of my biography of Anne Sexton in 1991 prompted a controversy, surprising to me, about ethical obligations of biographers toward their subjects. The precipitating event was a news story announcing that one of Anne Sexton's psychiatrists had provided me access to over 300 hours of taped psychotherapy sessions.1 The journalist interviewed a number of medical ethicists who claimed that the doctor had violated a fundamental ethical principle governing the conduct of psychiatry: the necessity of protecting doctor/patient confidentiality.