Also defense attorneys and brothel madams. I just got a Nigerian scam spam from a psychiatrist I did a computer gig for a few months back. Hopefully he’s the type of shrink with enough sense not to hand out his email address to too many, or any, of his patients patients (which is only a good idea if you want to spend every hour of the day and night fielding whacky emails) as if he had he’d have really ruined his weekend — especially if Charlie Sheen were one of his patients.

Actually if Charlie Sheen were one of your patients an email snafu wouldn’t make your life noticeably worse, but think about it from a patient’s shoes, in addition to getting your primary email address on some spam list because your doctor didn’t use a strong enough password or buy a Mac, you’d feel exposed to the Internet and everyone else in the headers of that email. You might be pissed, paranoid, it might even qualify as a heavy enough clinical stressor to flare up your serotonin levels. I’m just this man’s computer guy, no emailing with him about all my issues, just his, but I’m still irritated that my address got exposed as a result of this and I’m sympathetic to his patients.

Rather than try to caution any of you psychiatrists, guardians of the especially abnormally-minded (addressing MDs here, not this guy who’s even got a Youtube channel), and others with professions necessitating discretion on cyber safety, instead I’ll just suggest that you keep your patient sessions isolated to the actual sessions in your office and don’t start emailing and facebooking and twittering with them. It’s just a liability for this reason and others and the convenience and practicality of mixing too much technology with your work like the rest of us may not be worth the risk.

But hey, maybe in another forty years or so society will evolve enough for this not to be that big a deal.

Doug Simmons

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