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August 8, 1966

Scared to Death

Author Affiliations

Los Angeles

JAMA. 1966;197(6):516. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110060190041

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To the Editor:—  The remarks of George X. Trimble, MD, interested me a great deal (195:952, 1966). I am absolutely convinced that this situation is more common than realized.One of my teachers in medical school, a wise and great surgeon, Dr. John M. T. Finney, said to us "If a patient looks you in the eye, and says, 'Doctor, if you operate on me, I am going to die'... don't operate on him."The danger comes when the patient doesn't look you in the eye, but has made up his or her own mind. We recently had a like tragedy in this community in the case of one of our colleagues, who had a cardiac arrest in connection with a tonsillectomy. He had had strong premonitions.My own experience is unforgettable. Some years ago, I had a patient who was "a bit of a queer duck" but who