Am I My Genes?: Confronting Fate and Family Secrets in the Age of Genetic Testing

Hardcover | February 1, 2012

byRobert L. Klitzman

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In the fifty years since DNA was discovered, we have seen extraordinary advances. For example, genetic testing has rapidly improved the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as Huntington's, cystic fibrosis, breast cancer, and Alzheimer's. But with this new knowledge comes difficultdecisions for countless people, who wrestle with fear about whether to get tested, and if so, what to do with the results. Am I My Genes? shows how real individuals have confronted these issues in their daily lives. Robert L. Klitzman interviewed 64 people who faced Huntington's Disease, breast and ovarian cancer, or Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. The book describes - often in the person's own words - how each haswrestled with the vast implications that genetics has for their lives and their families. Klitzman shows how these men and women struggle to make sense of their predicament and its causes. They confront a series of quandaries - whether to be tested; whether to disclose their genetic risks toparents, siblings, spouses, offspring, friends, doctors, insurers, employers, and schools; how to view and understand themselves and their genetics; what treatments, if any, to pursue; whether to have children, adopt, screen embryos, or abort; and whether to participate in genetic communities. In the face of these uncertainties, they have tried to understand these tests and probabilities, avoid fatalism, anxiety, despair, and discrimination, and find hope, meaning, and a sense of wholeness. Forced to wander through a wilderness of shifting sands, they chart paths that many others mayeventually follow. Klitzman captures here the voices of pioneers, some of the first to encounter the personal dilemmas introduced by modern genetics. Am I My Genes? is an invaluable account of their experience, one that will become all the more common in the coming years.

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From the Publisher

In the fifty years since DNA was discovered, we have seen extraordinary advances. For example, genetic testing has rapidly improved the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as Huntington's, cystic fibrosis, breast cancer, and Alzheimer's. But with this new knowledge comes difficultdecisions for countless people, who wrestle with f...

Robert Klitzman is Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and the Director of the Masters of Bioethics Program at Columbia University. He co-founded and for five years co-directed the Columbia University Center for Bioethics, and is the Director of the Ethics and Policy Core of the HIV Center. He is the author of When Doctors Become Patients...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:352 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:February 1, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199837163

ISBN - 13:9780199837168

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Part I: IntroductionI. Embarking on genetic journeys: IntroductionPart II: Genes in the familyII. "Do I want to know?": Testing decisionsIII. "Whom should I tell?": Disclosures and testing in familiesPart III: Genes in the mind: Understanding geneticsIV. Genetic test as Rorschach: Questions of "why me?"V. "Am I my genes?": Genetic identitiesVI. "Lightning doesn't strike twice": Myths and misunderstandings about geneticsPart IV: Genes in the clinicVII. "What should I do about my genes?": Deciding on treatmentVIII. "What should I do about my genes?": Deciding on treatmentIX. "There's only privacy if you make it": Problems with privacy and insurancePart V: Genes in the wider worldX. "Keep it in the family?": Other disclosures beyond kinXI. "Crossing over": Entering genetic communitiesXII. "Testing everyone?": Gene politicsPart VI: ConclusionsXIII. Genes in everyday life

Editorial Reviews

"Blending compassion and good science, Robert Klitzman proposes new guidelines for the morally complex questions of how we understand our genetics, and what we choose to do with the destiny they imply. His sensitive, humanist approach converts information into knowledge." --Andrew Solomon, author of Noonday Demon