Chromosomes and communication: The discourse of genetic counseling

Rayna Rapp

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    This chapter explores the social impact and cultural interpretations of prenatal diagnosis in the context of genetic counseling. Language differences may signal communicative ambiguities far beyond the question of literal translation. Local metaphors of pregnancy, birth, and parenthood do not necessarily translate easily into the realm of medical discourse. The profession of genetic counseling was developed to aid the public in translating the discourse of human genetics, with its technical and ever-shifting implications, into usable and more popular language. Genetic counseling remains a "women's field." Less than 1 percent of the graduates of genetic counseling programs are men, and many of these are employed in administration. In 1958, Jerome Lejeune peered through a microscope and identified an extra chromosome in samples of smooth connective tissue taken from three patients with Down's syndrome. The ethical complexity of diagnoses is something all genetic counselors confront.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationNew Approaches to Human Reproduction
    Subtitle of host publicationSocial and Ethical Dimensions
    PublisherTaylor and Francis
    Number of pages17
    ISBN (Electronic)9780429698217
    ISBN (Print)0813304504, 9780367006754
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Social Sciences


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