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May 21, 1982

Truth Telling in Medicine

Author Affiliations

West Columbia, SC

JAMA. 1982;247(19):2659. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320440011007

To the Editor.—  I found the recent article "Truth Telling in Medicine" by Mark Sheldon, PhD (1982;247:651), to be interesting and thought-provoking. There is one aspect of this issue that needs more emphasis than it has received.One of the most neglected aspects of the physician-patient relationship is the right of the patient to be a self-sovereign, autonomous, free human being. Throughout history, this right has been violated time and time again under the guise of "helping" the patient. If one concludes that it is in the "best interest" of a patient for the physician to lie to that patient, then one has decided that the physician— not the patient—is the true judge of the "best interest" of the patient. If that is true, the patient has no selfsovereignty, and the physician is sovereign over the patient.Back in the days when blacks were totally enslaved, many slave owners justified