"All God's Mistakes" by Charles L. Bosk, is an interesting read if for no other reason than the book's title. The book is a piece of research dealing with birth anomalies from the stand point of the bearer of bad news. Speaking of his research, Bosk details the often difficult decisions that confront parents of newborns suffering genetic birth defects. While investigating the emotional as well as professional aspects of life altering circumstances, Bosk provides excellent technical discussion of prenatal diagnosis and early detection of diseases like spina bifida, sickle-cell and hemophilia.

When Bosk started his research, genetic counselors played a major role in advising prospective parents facing the risk, or uncertainty, of giving birth to a genetically defective child. Normally, that role was left to physicians, but as Bosk explains, it has increasingly moved into the realm of "genetic" counselors.

Bosk, a professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, focuses on how health care professionals "make sense of experiences in which time-pressured decisions are required in situations filled with un-resolvable uncertainty." Uncertainty is tough to deal with in a profession attuned to helping and care. It is even more difficult when it is necessary to inform parents of bad news.

Dealing with imperfection in the perfect world of Christianity where God never makes a mistake is especially difficult. Sadly, that type of faith does not leave much room for rational thought. Nevertheless, as Dr. Bosk points out, it is the health care professional, whether a counselor or doctor, that must not only deliver bad news, but be prepared to answer the inevitable tough questions that come with it.

He correctly predicts that the detached "expert neutrality" status of counselors will change to embrace applied human genetics and to cope with medical and technical knowledge of today's parents. For research started in the 70's, Bosk proves to be prescient as this book of early patient care effectively addresses the dilemma facing health care professionals when forced to deal with the unpleasant reality of diseases that result in serious physical and mental defects or even death.

Although the title implies a much more gripping attempt at reconciling a perfect creator allowing imperfection, in that aspect it does not deliver on the implied debate. However, the implied connection is not lost on the reader as case after case reveals the imperfection and reality that doctors and counselors must address with parents.

If nothing else, Bosk's research reveals that genetic counselors view themselves as "neutral" intermediaries relaying detached scientific information to expectant parents, but the study also revealed that although counselors saw their in this way, in actuality nothing changed and the doctor still was the decision maker in explaining and delivering bad news, while the counselor was left in a secondary "clean up" role.

Although the book never addresses its controversial title, it makes it clear through a variety of case studies that the idea that God never makes a mistake is not only wishful thinking, but possible hazardous to mental stability by providing rationalization for reality.

In the final analysis, "All God's Mistakes" makes the reader aware of the terrible dilemma facing health care professionals and parents confronting both in dealing with God's mistakes.

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Tags: Birth, Book, Counseling, Defects, God, Medicine, Mistakes, Perfection, Review

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Comment by Donald R Barbera on November 25, 2013 at 5:12pm

Clarence--You are certainly right to a degree and although commercialism is part of healthcare these days, in the 70's it had not progressed to that level and human genetics were in their infancy. As the title implies, it is more about dealing with prenatal birth defects identified before childbirth and the dilemma physicians, counselors and parents face when dealing with the reality of having a less than "normal" child. The implied conundrum is how does an all-powerful, all-knowing merciful God account for imperfect children. Surely it isn't punishment to the parents because ultimately it is the child that suffers. The dilemma for the counselor or physician is how to explain to parents what will be a traumatic event that they have no control over.

Comment by Clarence Dember on November 25, 2013 at 3:47pm
Genetic counsellors seem to be the new apologists for man's ignorance of bioprocess gone dreadfully wrong. Does God need this kind of Ombudsman? In my analysis this kink of counselling becomes subsumed in the marketing scheme pushing more surgery drugs and radiation.
Yet minimum daily requirements of these 3 sacred waters do not supplant :
Adequate rest, exercise, nutrition and waste elimination in a cogent and dynamic view of human existence.

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