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February 14, 1996

Mapping Fate: A Memoir of Family, Risk, and Genetic Research

Author Affiliations

University of Michigan Ann Arbor

JAMA. 1996;275(6):491-492. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530300075048

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This eloquent and often moving memoir is the account of a remarkable family's response to a terrible illness. In 1968, Leonore Sabin Wexler was diagnosed as suffering from Huntington's disease, the dominantly inherited disorder that had previously killed her father and three brothers. This highly intelligent and vivacious woman, an honors graduate of Hunter College at the age of 15, experienced the inexorable and typical decline of her cognitive abilities and coordination, the marked alteration of personality and behavior, and the development of the involuntary movements that are the hallmark of Huntington's disease.

As is also typical, her diagnosis was preceded by several years in which alterations of personality and behavior were apparent. What ensued was not typical. Mrs Wexler's ex-husband Milton Wexler, a well-known clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, became an activist in the cause of Huntington's disease. In addition to fund-raising and lobbying, Milton Wexler began the Hereditary Disease