It’s a secret

To say there are all kinds of secrets would be an understatement. We all have things, little or big, that we’d prefer to keep to ourselves. They can be secret thoughts, actions, or our state of health.

Our thoughts are our ultimate secrets, our privacy. Unless we are hypnotized or up against a mind reader, we can normally keep our thoughts safely guarded. It’s become much less so about what we do. We can be in a place we wish we weren’t, say or do something we wish we hadn’t, and if caught on tape (as they say), that action could become viral in light speed.

As far as our own personal health goes, we live in a world where we’ve demanded privacy. As long as we are not carrying a contagious disease, we each have the right to keep our health history to ourselves. On could argue whether that is right or wrong, but legally, we’ve been given that right. One could argue about our rights of privacy vs full disclosure for days, and in the end, it might come down to “it depends.”

There could be reasons a person might want to keep their own health situation to themselves when those with inquiring (or non inquiring) minds might not understand fully.  One might also say that it is prudent for a person to keep their children always informed of their complete health condition.  If it’s a genetic condition, there is little question that it would be helpful.  But once a decision of disclosure is made, it’s no longer private.  As Benjamin Franklin once said, “three can keep a secret as long as two are dead.”

We can also try to steer how public our privacy is. My pen name of FS was concocted at the start of this blog’s creation. Being that a blog is public domain, I chose to keep my name out of it, especially to prevent it from ending up on search engines. Still, innocent (and well received) comments from supporters occasionally inserted my real name in the comments.  No big deal as I usually edited the name out. I was also very loose by adding pictures along the way. Anyone with a pea brain effort at investigation could find out who I am if it mattered.  And as I mentioned a few posts ago, it’s only a thing, and not a big deal (who knows and doesn’t).

But this post is not about me. It’s about our right to health privacy – our right to keep that secret. I’ve signed enough forms over the past year reminding me of our legal rights to privacy. Our moral rights about that privacy is another, maybe more sticky matter.

I’m not connected enough with higher powers to say what is right or not right about disclosure vs privacy, but I am of the opinion that partial disclosure might as well be full disclosure. We don’t do others a favor by imposing secrets on them, especially without their consent. A secret can be a burden. If someone willingly accepts that burden, all well and good. It would not be fair of me to say to Charlie Carbonara, “I have xxx syndrome, but Paula Penne must not know,” unless Charlie willingly consented to keep that information to himself.

The point of this post being, that if we want to keep something private, then best to do it, say it, think it, or keep it in private. Otherwise, secrets are better off mixed with spilled beans (some love and all war excepted). Keeping the secrets of others is a tiny burden each of us needs to judiciously decide how to handle from time to time – and also one we could do without.  More importantly, deciding what, how and with whom to disclose private information is less about keeping something private, and more about simply doing the right thing (and finding out what that is, is the secret).  But we all know it’s much more complicated than this short rambling post, and that’s no secret.

2 thoughts on “It’s a secret

  1. Stryker Warren jr.

    Fred: HIPAA (the reason you have read so many papers/disclaimers/postition statements while in medical facilities) as you know is intended to protect all of us as it relates to health information–law spawned from a leak to newspapers that Arthur Ashe was HIV+. For your minions who read this blog, the HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information and applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and those health care providers that conduct certain health care transactions electronically. The Rule requires appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information, and sets limits and conditions on the uses and disclosures that may be made of such information without patient authorization. The Rule also gives patients rights over their health information, including rights to examine and obtain a copy of their health records, and to request corrections. Does it work all the time? It is certainly supoosed to and the fines and penalties are large enough health care providers are exceptionally sensitive. HIPAA does not–however–protect one individual from another’s indiscretions with personal information shared in conversation or thru shared experiences. I wanna here more about meals in Laos and where you park your gum. Best, swjr

  2. Mother

    Shall we discuss secrets or disclosure?

    re: secrets, I always want to think Ben Franklin is wrong but alas I fear human frailty is ubiquitous.
    Trust is a rarity.

    As to disclosure, it is my belief that full understanding by the gathering of the body of facts is wise before full disclosure. To share an unknown is sloppy and can be misleading.

    This I would say to any of my friends. My definitions of friend is one who can be trusted to keep trust in tact.


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