In recent times, I have found myself dwelling on issues of trust, its impact, and the burden of confidentiality on all those who are saddled with such responsibility. Reliability in our day to day relationships gives the stability that we require to live psychologically balanced lives.
Issue of confidentiality is a migraine that most of us live with, can stem from anywhere. It could be from formal written documents, or verbally expressed private conversations, as long as they all point to certain information being kept from many or a few, and can only be exposed only if otherwise stated.
To avoid ambivalence, a dictionary definition of the word is necessary:
1. … 'Spoken, written, acted on, etc., in strict privacy or secrecy; secret: a confidential remark.’
2. ...Indicating confidence or intimacy; imparting private matters: a confidential tone of voice.
3. ...Having another's trust or confidence; entrusted with secrets or private affairs: a confidential secretary.
My concern at this juncture is whether there is a threshold point at which caution can be thrown to the winds and confidentiality can be breached without any implication or complication. Readers are adequately positioned to discuss this multifaceted issue on this blog, along with me.
Considerations can be given to the issue of confidentiality from various stand points, such as the moral, the legal, and the social to mention but a few.
For a better understanding, this discuss will be more in relation to professions, however, it should be understood that this issue also affect people who relate in other various ways.
Have we ever stopped to wonder which of our professionals keep secrets the most? Can it be lawyers, Doctors, Bankers/Accountants and Religious representatives?
Simply put, lawyers handle matters ranging from civil to criminal cases, from company to estate affairs. It needs not be said that they are privy by the nature of their profession to various kinds of information (both positive and negative) about their clients (as they call them), and are meant to keep sealed lips over them, except when such are to used to their advantage in a law court. But how can a lawyer defend/represent a known drug baron for instance, who has been caught in his criminal trade?
The Bankers/Accountants keeps records all funds and financial transactions. We have heard recently of an unprecedented crash of the stock exchange. These are cases of companies that have erstwhile been declaring fantastic financial reports for years, now suddenly declared insolvent with their capital totally eroded.
Did the accountants involved discover the anomaly overnight? Or have the professionals concerned simply turned a blind eye?
The next concern for me is what becomes the fate of unsuspecting shareholders who acted, based upon the reports of these professionals? I guess the 'caveat emptor' (buyer beware) is shrouded up in one of those lengthy tiny fine prints. Am I right? And the boards of such companies have it to hide them from litigation.
The family doctors are meant to address all health concerns of their patients. And peradventure there are some sensitive health issues, which expectedly must be kept secret; they must not be shared with anyone else. The secret must not be disclosed, not even for statistical purposes without the prior consent or approval of the patient in question.
I am sure you will say that is stating the obvious, and might ask the question; haven’t you read about the 'doctor/ patient confidentiality' clause?
How do you explain a culture where, once your child reaches the age of sixteen or thereabout he can sign a confidentiality agreement, wherein it is stated that he may not to be accompanied by his parents to see his doctor? Also, in the same agreement, that the doctor must not disclose any health issues of his without consent, not even when the parents are the financiers of the treatment.
What of a situation where the loss of a loved one, who has instructed on euthanasia for a particular status of his or her health life, is imminent? Would the doctor tell the persons involved, so that they can tidy up some loose ends or even be able to spend more quality time and have proper closure with their loved ones?
Food for thought!
Religious Representative (Clergy/Imam/Buddha priest, etc):
Most religions believe that there is a higher being generally referred to as God, who rules in the affairs of mortals. Further, we are helped through persuasions and indoctrinations to following the dictates of these religions in order to be at peace and harmony with ourselves as individuals and collectively with one another as a people.
It is no secret that some people belonging to the catholic sect of the Christendom confide in the priests of their wrong doings ranging from trivial to heinous crimes, from the past or at present. Do the priests owe the public the moral right to disclose when the safety of the public and common good is at stake?
In Africa, marabous and Imams are often consulted for charms for personal protection and to become invincible. The individuals who seek these charms are often men of doubtful character.
Would the marabous disclose to law enforcement agents, what their suspicions are to the detriment of their source of income sometimes or just hold their peace.
The situation is the same in informal relationships such as friendship and marriage. People in relationships have somehow invested trust in others who have been regarded close and would offer relevant protection to information about them. How far would you go to keep a secret and still be able to keep your sanity?
The dilemma of when to keep quiet or when not to, is such a deep one that cuts across almost all professional lines. What does one do when he gets to such crossroads? Are there strategies that may be adopted, which are classified under trade secrets for these professionals that are generally employed in such situations, to cope with the dilemmas?
Please share with me your take on the above.