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January 4, 1965


JAMA. 1965;191(1):46. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080010052018

Increased interest in hereditary diseases has led to descriptions of "new" genetic and cytogenetic conditions, as well as to various accounts of the intricacies of the DNA code. Concern has, in turn, been generated among laymen and physicians regarding the role of "genetic factors" in disease. However, there has been slower development in the field of genetic counseling. Many medical and nonmedical counselors still insist on a cold, mathematical, stereotyped approach. Too often interviews in this tone have left patients confused and the counselor bewildered because of the sterile outcome of the session.

One of the difficult tasks of the medical geneticist is that of counseling members of families in which early deaths from hereditary diseases have occurred. The parents are constantly in search of promise and hope; however, the telltale stigmata of hereditary death, coupled with past observations of a chronic or often fulminant course leading to death of