Degrees of Separation

Two and a half years ago I participated in a research study. As you can imagine I wasn’t in the study as a healthy control. A small part of the study was recorded and I consented to that. At the time the field of psychology didn’t seem so small and incestuous. I wasn’t very worried about it, which really is out of character for me.

For the past year I’ve been stressed out a lot by the idea of that recording being out there. I went to a talk given by this researcher several months ago and avoided one of hers even further back than that. I hadn’t met her before, only a research assistant, but I worried about that recording. Had she seen it?

I debated back and forth about calling. If I called and withdrew my consent it could draw her attention to me. That could be worse than just leaving it and hoping it’s long forgotten.

Last week I heard some colleagues mention her name. I was surprised, because despite relative geographical closeness, her research is about as far away from what we do at my work as is possible for two areas within the same field. Turns out several of my colleagues are close friends with her.

As soon as I got home I dug through my file of consent forms to find the phone number of the lab where this recording was located and exact name of the study. The degrees of separation are now too few. I needed to call and have that recording destroyed.

It wasn’t until I found the consent form that I realized it was an audio recording, not a video recording. No one is going to recognize me from an audio recording. Relief.

3 thoughts on “Degrees of Separation

  1. Hey, have been thinking about you. And this post. It’s a little off, in some way. I can’t explain. (Trying to think of it, though.) What’s your main thing here – being identified? That would freak me out too. But maybe I’m misunderstanding.

    • Maybe it’s off in the sense that it’s shorter than what I usually write? This post was more impulsive than what I normally write. I just sort of spat it out instead of letting it stir in my brain for awhile. There’re a lot of issues going on here. The fear of being found out at my work and losing what I’ve worked for again like what happened with the school I was kicked out of. This idea that I can’t keep parts of my life separate. Everything is becoming so blurry. I went to a talk the other day only to realize one of the speakers was a therapist who I’ve spoken to on the phone who S.M. had called asking for referrals in my area. This issue that I’ve dug myself into a deep hole, by choosing this field even though I love what I do.


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