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December 27, 1971

"No, I Don't Know" Therapy

Author Affiliations

Albany, NY

JAMA. 1971;218(13):1945. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03190260059025

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To the Editor.—  Briggs (217:1705, 1971) commented on the "You know syndrome." The dangers inherent in this syndrome are insidious; communication seems to reach a standstill, although your attention is compelled by the constant referral to "you" and the hidden compliment that you are aware. I have been left bewildered after talking with people of different ages. While hearing and agreeing, I admittedly did not understand completely! To interject "No, I really don't know or understand" may have broken a train of thought. But now I find it to be an almost necessary inquiry when an exchange of ideas is involved. The frequency of this subtle "you know" habit or pitfall may be increasingly noted in conversations and general television viewing. A syndrome, easily cured by a healthy "I don't know, please explain," would bring about a greater understanding of ideas for all ages.