Public Release: 

Am I my genes?

Oxford University Press

Genetic testing has greatly improved the rapidity in the diagnosis and treatments of diseases such as breast cancer, Alzheimer's, cystic fibrosis, Huntington's, and many other ailments. With this improved knowledge in the realm of medical technology, however, comes a minefield of difficult decisions for people regarding whether to get tested, and if so, what to do when the results are in.

In AM I MY GENES? Confronting Fate and Family Secrets in the Age of Genetic Testing Robert L. Klitzman interviewed 64 people who faced Huntington's Disease, breast and ovarian cancer, or Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, and explores how real individuals have confronted these issues in their daily lives--often in the person's own words--how each has wrestled with the vast implications that genetics has for their lives and their families.

They confront a series of quandaries--

  • Whether to be tested; whether to disclose their genetic risks to parents, 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
  • Whether to participate in genetic communities

In the face of these uncertainties, those profiled have tried to understand these tests and probabilities, avoid fatalism, anxiety, despair, and discrimination, in an effort to find hope, meaning, and a sense of wholeness. Forced to wander through a wilderness of shifting sands, they chart paths that many others may eventually follow.

About the author

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, A Year-long Night: Tales of a Medical Internship, In a House of Dreams and Glass: Becoming a Psychiatrist, and other works.


Confronting Fate and Family Secrets in the Age of Genetic Testing
By Robert L. Klitzman will be published on March 1, 2012
$29.95 / Hardback / 376 pgs. / ISBN13: 9780199837168

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