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December 1964

Psychodynamics of Early Hereditary Deaths: Role of the Medical Genetics Counselor

Author Affiliations

H. T. Lynch, MD, Eugene C. Eppley Institute, 42nd and Dewey Ave, Omaha, Neb 68105.; Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases, Nebraska Psychiatric Institute, University of Nebraska College of Medicine, Omaha, and Department of Pediatrics, Baylor University College of Medicine, Houston.

Am J Dis Child. 1964;108(6):605-610. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1964.02090010607004

Introduction  Recent developments in medical genetics have made clear the hereditary etiology of (countless) diseases. Unusual attention and concern have been focused on "genetic factors" in disease for physicians and, in turn, patients and their families. In many families, this concern assumes catastrophic proportions, evoking anxiety, misdirected guilt, hostility, a marked decline in reproductive performance, and, in its extreme, family disruption.1-4 There is little knowledge as to how most effectively to counsel the patient with hereditary disease and his family. This has become a major challenge for the clinical geneticist5 who accepts responsibility for service and research.The purpose of this report is to present certain concepts in medical genetic counseling gleaned through experience with two families wherein death has occurred to more than one progeny from a genetic disease.

Material and Methods  Two families were selected from more than 600 counseled thus far. In one family ("A"