The Dark Has a Life of Its Own









It was a dark and stormy night.

Okay, that’s cheating, but only a little.

It was early evening, to be precise. And it was stormy, but that came later.

Jason was my last patient of the day, my 7:00, that Wednesday in November, but it already looked like midnight. There’d been something brewing in the sky all day, complete with dramatic gusts of wind, heavy clouds covering, then uncovering, a weary sun, and occasional raindrops spattering my office windows. As a veteran of Oakland weather watching, I thought to myself cynically, “Threats – just threats.” Real storms in Oakland almost always come when you’re asleep, and stop in the early morning. In Oakland, you don’t say, “Wow – it’s raining,” you say, “Looks like it rained last night.” So I figured we’d be teased for a few hours yet, then the real thing would cut loose in the wee small hours of the morning.

My signal light lit up, telling me Jason had arrived. I went out to the waiting room and there he was, punctual and buttoned up as always, in his regulation uniform: white dress shirt, blue blazer with those mock-nautical, brass-looking buttons, grey slacks, and maroon loafers. I could say, “Hail, the young executive, circa 1959,” but I won’t because I’m not catty, so let’s forget I said anything, okay?


(Oops, sorry, that just slipped out.)

Actually, my cattiness (okay, I admit it) had a purpose: to alert me that there was something in me that responded, negatively, to Jason’s ‘perfection’: his precise punctuality, his creased-and-starched, never-varying haberdashery (sorry, but that’s exactly the word for it), his reserved, reined-in manner. I know it’s not proper diagnostic terminology, but let’s face it, the guy had a stick up his ass, dude.

Go tell that to your DSM.

I’m kidding around, but it’s kidding on the square: as a therapist, you use these feelings to tell you things about the people you’re working with, and my feelings were telling me this guy was marching through life like a shiny toy soldier – “all hat and no cattle,” as Charlie Finley used to say. We had been meeting for several months already, but somehow he’d always managed to hold me at arm’s length, with his spit-shined correctness and his short-leashed emotions.

Yes, he had originally come in because his marriage was falling apart, and for a few sessions there, he seemed like he was up for doing some work, but soon enough he ‘got it together’ and said he had reached some kind of peace with his wife’s leaving him.

“Peace” – that’s what he called it. He seemed so logical about it – too damn logical – and that left his rational shell firmly in place, blocking the entrance to his feelings, like Cerberus.

Hearing him tell it, it was hard to understand why, and how, a wife would ever leave such a wonderful, kind, thoughtful and dependable husband as Jason.

She’d had an affair with one of his “best friends,” and then, when Jason found out, she announced that she was leaving him. Imagine that! She has the affair, and with his best friend, no less – and then she says she’s leaving

The nerve! The chutzpah! The effrontery! The unmitigated something-or-other!

Or at least that’s how I felt at first. But eventually, as we met and talked about it many more times, I began to feel something was missing from his explanation of the whole thing, and maybe, just maybe, my intuition was filling in the blanks.

Perhaps I was beginning to see her side of it. Maybe she’d ‘had it’ with his vanilla niceness and his starched front. Maybe she got sick of his coming home at exactly the same time every night, setting his classic briefcase down in exactly the same place, and saying, “Hi, dear – how was your day?” If there ever was such a thing as a Stepford Husband, this guy was it. You wanted to put a whoopee cushion under him, throw down a banana peel, or shake his hand with a joy buzzer – anything to get to the real human being under all that cotton batting he was all wrapped up in.

Understand, that’s not all I felt about him – I actually liked him, or maybe the ‘him’ I could sense underneath, but this feeling of being fed up with his ‘act’, of being held at arm’s length, was getting stronger and stronger. But how was I going to get under his shell, how was I going to make contact with the boy underneath – the anger, the hurt, and maybe even the joy, trapped within?

As I led him into my office and closed the door, thunder boomed outside, and the rain began a steady patter on the windowpanes. As I may have said in this space before (a hundred times?) I love rain, and particularly this night, I welcomed it as a friend that could sit in on the session with me, and maybe provide me with a little companionship, if not a few much-needed tips on working with my enigmatic patient.

Jason’s voice suddenly interrupted my little reverie: “Oh my goodness – I didn’t even bring a proper umbrella or a topcoat. I’ll get wet.” As he talked, he smoothed the (imaginary) wrinkles out of his pants, looking dismayed.

Something about his tone was so petulant, so . . . fussy, that it was hard not to laugh. I mean, really: a ‘topcoat’? It’s not the 1940’s, and we’re not in New York City, bro! And understand, he had an umbrella – one of those compact jobs that you can swing along by the black plastic loop – the only kind I’ve ever had, the kind you grab quick from a crate at the CVS after it’s already been raining for days, use twice, and then toss until next year’s one rainstorm.

But then, I don’t have any fancy flannel pants or pseudo-nautical buttons to protect.

Just sayin’.


So where were we? Oh yeah, Jason bemoaning his lack of proper umbrellery, and me sitting there so frustrated, I wanted to run through the streets yelling, “Topcoat!” over and over until I felt better. No, not really, but you get my drift, which is that there is a purpose, and a use, for everything you feel towards your patients.

We talked, as we always did, about his business fortunes, the people he had to deal with, both up (his demanding, narcissistic boss), and down (the unmotivated, excuse-making managers he had to try to motivate). Blah, blah, blah – nothing ‘live’ was happening, as usual. I tried all my tricks (which I can’t share, of course, because they’re classified), but here is an interaction from that session that will give you the flavor of trying to ‘get in’ on this guy:

Me: So, when you had to fire Joe, what was it like?

Jason: (Wan smile) Oh, just another day at the office.

Me: Really – that’s all? I thought you liked Joe.

Jason: Oh, I do – or that is, I did, but you can’t let these things affect you.

Me: Hmm . . . What does affect you? (He said nastily, deliberately trying to bait the patient.)

Jason: (Looking outside, at the steadily increasing rain) Wet clothes, for one.

Me: Wet clothes: that’s it? (More baiting)

Jason: No, that’s not the entirety of ‘it’, but tonight that’s certainly on my mind.

Me: What about what’s on the inside?

Jason: (Laughing) Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that getting wet.

Okay, do you see what I was up against here?

And then something happened.

Now, the storm was really getting fierce. Rain was lashing the window so hard that we could barely hear ourselves talk. Thunder would crackle, grumble, then explode in waves of vibrations that made me understand why Washington Irving heard the gods playing tenpins.

And then the lights flickered, flickered again, and went out.

My office is in an old building with a 1940’s electrical system. The lights often flickered like this, flashed out for a moment, then back on. I waited, waited, but it was still dark. Well, c’est la guerre, I figured: Jason wasn’t the type to wing it, or do anything unusual, so I figured the remaining half hour of the session was a write-off tonight.

I made a perfunctory offer, just for good form. “Well, I could light the candle over there on the bookcase, but . . .” My voice trailed off.

“No. Please, I want to stay.”

I could hardly believe my ears. “Uh, okay – I’ll just see if I can find the matches . . .”

“No. No candle . . . just us.”

What the _____? Had someone put LSD in my water? My mental wheels spun, trying to make sense of it. I’ve got it! It was his way of avoiding the whole issue of what I was going to charge him, or not, and rescheduling, or not. This way, he could duck that conversation, and maybe get through the next half hour with no pressure being put on him.



“Things are happening – inside, that I don’t want to walk away from.” Pause. “I want you here, with me.”

Wow. That was some good acid! Or else something was really happening here. I tried to shift gears, emotionally, and create a ‘space’ for some kind of intimacy. This time, the storm really did provide an assist: just listening to the pounding of the rain, and the crack of the thunder, helped me settle down into the moment, ready for whatever was to come.


“You said things are happening, inside. Could you say anything about that – anything at all?”

“I really don’t know. It’s flickering in and out, like the lights were. It’s just . . . something, that I remembered, from a long time ago.”

“Well, just keep breathing, and try to be with it – be willing to be with it. Think of it as a scared child, that needs to know it’s safe, before it can come out.”

“Yeah – yeah, that seems right. There’s a lot of fear in there – so much, that . . .”

“That what?”

“That it was worth living in a cave for the rest of my life.”

(Sounds of crying)

His shaky voice went on. “I . . . I think the dark’s helping.” (Pause) “Like, the fact that I’m hidden, that you can’t see me, is helping.”

Actually, I could see him fairly well by this time, although not his facial expression. “I understand. Just keep breathing and making it safe for that part of you to come out.” (Pause) “I’m with you – and him.”

“Okay – I’m trying.”

“I know – you’re doing great.”


(Note: My body, my ‘insides’, felt completely different now: not angry, or put off, or catty, but honored, invited, dedicated, committed, involved, engaged – grateful.)

“It’s . . . it’s my brother. . .

(More crying)

” . . . He’s my idol. He’s all I had. My father and mother, they had each other. They didn’t need us, they didn’t want us. Their life was . . . perfect. They didn’t need us.” (Pause) “Did I already say that?”

“Yes, but let’s not worry about that. Keep going – about your brother, your idol.”

(Through intermittent sobs) “How could he? How could he?” (Pause)

“How could he — what?”

(Wracking sobs) “I can’t say it. I can’t say it . . . out loud.”

I gave him some time and space to work with it, but he was silent. Then, I tried something. “Could you write it down?”

“What – in the dark?”

I smiled to myself –  it was poignant how his usual persnicketyness was still present – even now. “Well, I have a flashlight – maybe you can write it down for me. Then we’ll turn it off again, and go back to the dark.”

“Uh — okay.”

I went to get the flashlight out of my drawer, grabbed a writing tablet I had on my desk, and brought them to him.

“Here you go – here’s a flashlight, and a pad. You just write whatever you want.”

He took what I handed him, and said, “Turn around.”

“You mean, right now?”

“Yes – right now.”

I turned my chair around to face the door, and waited.

Over the incessant rain, I heard more wracking sobs – it was heartbreaking. It made me feel a fierce protectiveness towards him: suddenly, I wanted to hold him, rock him, fight off anyone who threatened him.


I heard something fall at my feet, then looked down and saw a ball of paper lying there. I realized he must have written something, then crumpled up the paper and thrown it over my head.

I heard him sigh, hard. The sound told me what this must have cost him.

I picked up the paper. I wanted to respect his ownership of this moment. “Do you want me to read this?”

There was a moment of silence. The only sound was the whipping wind rattling the window frame. Then, he said, “No – not now.”

I started to turn my chair around.

He held up his hands. “No – don’t turn around. I’m leaving. After I’m gone, you can read it.”

I knew we had at least ten minutes left in the session. I was afraid he would leave and never come back. “Are you sure you need to go? I don’t want you to . . .”

“I’m leaving, Doc, but I’ll be back.”

He had never called me Doc before. But even more, his voice quality stunned me. It wasn’t prissy, or careful, but rich and somehow, confident.

He paused, throwing his coat over his shoulder carelessly as he got up. “You know – this is the first time in my whole life I ever felt like a man.” He crossed the room in strong strides, threw open the door, and was gone.

I know it’s crazy, but I sat there and felt like I had just watched Clark Kent transform into Superman. I was curious about what he had written, but somehow I knew it almost didn’t matter anymore. Something had torn loose inside of him, like adhesions from a scar breaking free, and he would never be the same.

I got up and went to look through the window at the parking lot behind my office. The storm was still in full fury, and it was magnificent. I opened the window wider, and felt the rush of wet, sweet air hit me. I closed my eyes and breathed in deeply, hungrily.

Then I remembered the ball of paper I was still holding in my hand. I uncrumpled it and held it up to the faint glow of the parking lot lights. In strong, block letters, it read:


For an instant, I thought it might mean, ‘no more’ of our sessions, but I knew better. I knew that, in some way known only to Jason, it meant ‘no more lies’. I also knew there would be lots more work to be done, but at that moment, the details didn’t matter: we had made a beginning, and I knew, absolutely, that we would see it through, together.

I stood there looking out the window for a long, long time, grateful for the gift of my profession, grateful for Jason’s trust, grateful for the storm that had turned out to be my ally, after all.

Finally, I gathered up all of my things, put on my jacket, and walked down the back stairs to the parking lot and my car. I opened up the car door, but then stood there one more minute, taking in the majesty of the storm, the beauty of all that had happened, and treasuring that I got to be present at the true beginning of one man’s real life.

And you know what?

I felt like a man, too.




























Note: All clinical vignettes herein are significantly altered to protect patient confidentiality and privacy.

Addictions: Are We Having Fun Yet?








This post won’t speak to everyone out there, but for those who have battled addictions of any kind, I hope it will be a ‘shout out’ of respect, guidance and fellowship. And the truth is, we’re all addicted to something: it’s just that some addictions are legal and socially sanctioned (material things, anyone?), whereas others are considered ‘bad’ and not tolerated.

Has it ever occurred to you that in some ways, all of society is just one big sandbox, and we’re all children playing around in it? Orson Welles once said that the whole development of civilization was just a way to impress girls, and I think that’s pretty close to the truth. All of us in this ‘sandbox’ want to be liked, we want to impress people, we want to feel included, we want to be like everyone else, and we want to be special. Like children, we all have a need to be good, and a need to be naughty.

We all have internalized ‘voices’ – from parents, teachers, religious institutions and other authorities – that tell us what to do. They tell us the ‘rules’, not just of our outward behavior, but even the rules of how to feel and think, in the privacy of our own minds – in fact, maybe mostly in our own minds. Imagine that – we live in a constant stream, a soup, a marinade, of judgments about our very thoughts and feelings. ‘They’ tell us where we go wrong, and we go wrong a lot:

Why were you happy when Jimmy got hurt? That’s not nice!

You lied about pushing your brother off the bed. What’s wrong with you?

You’re not very good at kickball – you better hide in the back the next time they choose up sides.

Now look what you did: you forgot to get Mom a Mother’s Day card and she’s all upset!

When we get older, the ‘voices’ get older, too, but they still have the same hectoring tone:

Why can’t you talk to people? Because you have nothing to say – that’s why!

Unbelievable: is that the best you can do?

Everyone else seems to be in a good relationship, but here you are, alone again!

I can’t believe you just did that: you must have been asleep the day brains were passed out.

And on and on it goes – sometimes it feels like a civil war inside your head. It’s frustrating and confusing to always be on two sides at the same time, or even worse, on no side at all. Other people seem able to do their homework, to plan for the future, to get hooked up with others, to belong, to not fail all the time, to relax, to have fun – but not you. And boy, do you hear about it: it’s yammer yammer yammer all the time.

Then one day, someone offers you a drink (or a joint, or a shot, or a pill). Well, it’s no big deal – besides, everyone else is doing it, and they seem okay. Well, just one won’t hurt. Besides, you don’t want to be a dork and an outsider, right? So you take one. Hmmm – tastes like crap, but it didn’t kill me. Another one? Sure – hit me again.

Wait – now this I didn’t expect: the voices stopped! Wait a damn minute – let me just take another one and test this out: Son of a gun – they did stop! Now this is more like it! I’m free! I’m living! I’m me! Where have they been keeping this stuff all this time? This is the best-kept secret of all time! And why did it take me so long to catch on?

Wow, I’m not afraid all the time!

I can talk to people!

I’m funny!

Man, if this is what the Buddhists call being in the moment…whee, I’m a Buddhist!

And, for many women, there’s an added ‘bonus’:

I’m sexy! I can have my own sexuality and not be so uptight about it. Woo hoo – I never knew being bad could feel so good!

Okay, sure, so you wake up the next morning and feel like the scum on the s…house floor. Sure you’re hung over. Sure, you ‘tied one on’, but then that’s part of life, right? It’s part of being a real man! You were there, man – you were part of something. Finally, you were YOU!

Well, who wouldn’t want more of that? Who wouldn’t want to feel like yourself? Who wouldn’t want to feel the flow, to feel sexy, to feel like you belong, to feel, finally, like you’re all right, instead of all wrong? To shut those voices up? To not be angry all the time, hurt, out of it, shy, dumb, worried, ashamed? To be free!

So you want it again. And you get that good feeling. But it wears off. So you want it yet again. And it wears off again. And now you need it, and it’s starting to cause trouble – nothing big, nothing you can’t handle. You’re lying to people about little things: where you were, what you were doing, how much you had, who you were with. Why are they asking anyway, dammit? Why can’t they just lighten up and leave you alone? You’re even lying to yourself, not a lot, but a little: just one more, then I’ll study; just one more, then I’ll swear off till the weekend; just beer, no hard stuff; only after work; in the morning, but only on the weekends; in the morning, but just enough to get me going.

Now you’re starting to have some real trouble, but again, nothing you can’t handle: a DUI from some cop who’s just out to fulfill his frickin’ quota, and can’t leave decent citizens alone; some snitch at work who told the boss he saw you take a nip in the men’s room; getting an F because the teacher was too uptight to be flexible about the drop deadline; a friend who’s mad because you didn’t show up when you said you would, or at all for that matter. And you lie to yourself about it: anyone can get a DUI – it’s just bad luck; I do more at work drunk than the rest of them do sober; that F doesn’t matter, because it isn’t in my major, besides I can always make it up in summer school; friends come and go – besides, they never understand that I can’t be held to rigid schedules all the time.

And the truth? You actually should have gotten 50 DUIs; you missed work ten times the last six months because you were hung over or passed out; you haven’t gotten it together to study for any of your classes; you don’t have any friends anymore, because the bottle is your one and only ‘friend’.

Okay, okay – you finally get the message: you have to stop. Not today, but soon. Real soon. Promise.

And you try – you really do try. You lay off for two whole days. That shows you can stop whenever you want, right? So why stop now, when you can stop whenever you want? Or how about this: I’ll control it; yeah, I’ll only drink every other day, and only at night – and only beer, which I hate anyway, so it should be easy.

So you enter what I call the phase of Independent Research: you know you have a problem, but you think you can ‘handle’ it. You develop, and test out, more approaches, more theories, more hypotheses, more hunches, more sure things, than a roomful of experimental physicists would in a lifetime.

I’ll only drink high quality stuff: it’s better for you.

I’ll cut down, but I’ll do it slowly, so it isn’t a shock to my system.

I’ll only drink at bars – that way I’ll drink smart, because I’ll have to drive home.

I’ll alternate a day of Ativan and Vicodin with a day of booze – less dangerous that way, and I’ll get used to not drinking every day. It’s really not that different from a dry-out program. Now I just have to convince my doctor that my knee really is that bad, and that I can’t sleep. But it’s a good, sound plan.

The variations are endless, and I’ve heard some real lulus in my time, including this one:

I’m on straight Xanax now, and I figure if I can handle Xanax for six months, I can definitely handle booze again. So my course is charted.

And this was a very bright guy – a guy who, a few months into sobriety, would tell this story at an AA meeting and get a big laugh. And he laughed with them.

So what happens to these people? Why can’t they just stop, as the title of a popular recovery book asks? Well, let’s go back to the original situation I outlined at the very beginning of this piece: what about that verbal civil war going on inside? What about the anger, the shame, the shyness, the confusion, the lack of confidence, the social awkwardness, the sexual taboos? If ‘they’ just stop – well, what’s Plan B? Sure, you could ‘just stop’, maybe, with help, but if all you do is ‘just stop’, you’re sunk. Then what? What do you do about the voices, the storm of internal criticism, the lack of belief in yourself, and all the rest of it? Yes, your original ‘solution’ (drinking) turned out to be a bust, but like the old joke about the crooked gambling house – it’s the only game in town!

This is what we call a ‘dry drunk’ – someone who has “just stopped”, period, with no Plan B in place. It’s admirable, maybe, that they’ve been strong enough to stop, but now they not only have all the original problems – the internal voices, the civil war – but they’re years behind in the game of life, and in emotional development and emotional skills, which only evolve when you confront problems directly, so that real emotional growth can take place. And I’m saying this with great compassion: it’s HARD to ‘grow up’ when you’re 30, or 40, or 50! It’s embarrassing, it’s humiliating, and it’s cumbersome, to use a nice word for cluster-f___.

A ‘user’ relies on what I call the ‘one-person system’ to solve their problems: they rely on their ‘best friend’ alcohol (or weed, or meth, or oxy, or coke) to fix things (hence the word ‘fix’). They have given up on (or never had) the use of other people to help them move through difficulties, and they have never developed a familiarity with ‘sitting with’ problems until a solution occurs, or until the problem shifts into something more manageable.

What do I mean by ‘shift’? Well, let’s take a 33 year-old male patient, ‘Jim’, who had been drinking alcoholically for at least ten years. I finally got him to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings regularly, and he was starting to see that he needed support from other people if he was going to stay sober. I will present two hypothetical sessions with him: one before getting sober, and one after – that will demonstrate what I mean by a ‘shift’:


Jim: Well, Rickie’s up to the same old shit.

Me: What old shit would that be?

Jim: I think you know.

Me: Well, humor me, then. I don’t like to guess, and I don’t read minds.

Jim (Disgustedly, with a snort of derision): She has girlfriend-itis again. The same old story: Get yourself together! Where were you last night? You need to bring in some money, or you need to get out. Look at these bottles!  I mean, what does she expect me to do? I’m dealing with a bad knee, I’m working on filing a grievance for getting fired by that bastard, and – oh yeah, a guy at the bar told me I should be drawing disability for having ADD: is that possible?

Me: Rickie sounds pretty frustrated.

Jim: Frustrated? Hell, we’re all frustrated on this bus! She just specializes in blaming me for her problems. She’s got a Ph.D. in it, dude!

Me: What do you expect her to feel? After all, with you either being drunk, or gone, or both, most of the time, she’s not getting much out of the deal, is she?

Jim: I’m there, ain’t I? I try – I even brought her some flowers the other day, and do you know what she did?

Me: No – what?

Jim: She looked at ’em and started crying! Crying – I am not shitting you! Then she said, “Let’s put ’em in a vase of whiskey, and see how long they last.” Can you believe that shit? So, why should I try?

Me: It seems pretty clear that as long as you’re still drinking, nothing’s going to change.

Jim: You sound like her.

Me: Maybe there’s a reason.

Jim: Jesus, Doc – you and Rickie got the same Ph.D.



Jim: Rickie’s mad again.

Me: What’s she mad about?

Jim: Well, I got sober, but I guess that ain’t enough. Now she wants me to listen to her, too.

Me: Listen to her, how?

Jim: You know, like about her day, her job . . .

Me: Her feelings?

Jim (laughs): Yeah, her feelings.

Me: Is that so crazy? We all have ’em – even you.

Jim (pauses, looking down): Yeah, sometimes it’s weird-like . . .

Me: You mean like they’re coming out, coming back?

Jim: Is that weird? (foot jiggling now, still looking down).

Me: No – it’s normal. You’ve stuffed ’em, drowned ’em, starved ’em and strangled ’em for a long time – but you’re lucky, you’ve got some tough guys inside there, that refused to die.

Jim: You mean it’s good?

Me: Well, let’s put it this way: all human beings have feelings about things. It’s part of their internal GPS – feelings help you evaluate what’s going on.

Jim: You mean like, ‘Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em’?

Me: Exactly – you wouldn’t drive a car without any gauges, would you?

Jim (laughs): I used to have a Ranchero with a hole in the floor – and nothin’ on that sucker’s dashboard worked, dude!

Me: But you don’t drive it anymore, do you?

Jim (thoughtful): Naw – that’s kid stuff.

Me: Maybe stuffing your feelings is kid stuff, too.

Jim (chewing on his lips and looking away – big sigh): Like, ‘Time to grow up’?

Me: Dude, you are growing up: you got yourself sober, didn’t you? That’s man’s work.

Jim (cocking his head): Feelings too?

Me: Feelings too. Feelings especially – they tell you who you are.

Jim: But man – sometimes they’re hard!

Me: That’s why I said it’s man’s work – a real man isn’t afraid to wade in and take care of business. Or to ask for help, either. Or to talk to his girlfriend.

Jim: You mean, like, trade back and forth – about, you know . . .

Me: Exactly: she doesn’t have a monopoly on feelings. Now, you have something to throw in there, too. Back and forth. You help each other out.

Jim (laughs): You mean, like, now I can torture her with my feelings, too?

Me: Haha – now you’re catchin’ on, Bro.


See the difference?

Before, he was shut down, blaming, locked into his own experience, unwilling and unable to take in anything new. Later in his sobriety, when he recognized these same qualities in AA newcomers, he would call it Paranoid.

And After, though he was still defensive, unsure of himself and wary, he had the capacity to take in a new point of view and ‘sit’ with uncertainty, until he had done something with it – that’s the shift, and that shift is the core of therapy, the core of sobriety, and, in my humble opinion, the core of a good life. For only when you listen, take responsibility, and have a willingness to change, do you truly have any power.

Running away isn’t power, and that’s why addictions are weak. Facing the truth is the only real power. And when you make facing the truth a way of life, sobriety starts to be fun: then you’re catchin’ on, Bro!












Note: All clinical vignettes herein are significantly altered to protect patient confidentiality and privacy.