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39 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 137 (1977-1978)
Informed Consent - A Fairy Tale - Law's Vision

handle is hein.journals/upitt39 and id is 147 raw text is: LA IRVIITY

VOLUME 39                   WINTER 1977                   NUMBER 2
Jay Katz*
This article is a substantially revised and expanded version of the first Isaac
Ray Lecture delivered by Dr. Katz at the University of Pittsburgh School of
Law on February 16, 1977. The 1975 Isaac Ray Award was presented to Dr.
Katz by the American Psychiatric Association for his outstanding contribu-
tions to forensic psychiatry. A.similarly expanded version of Dr. Katz's sec-
ond Isaac Ray Lecture, Medicine's Vision, will appear in a subsequent
issue.-The Editors.
Fairy tales are so appealing because ultimately they reduce complex
human encounters to enchanting simplicity. In listening to them we
suspend judgment and believe that once upon a time it was, and
maybe even today it is, possible to utter magic words or perform
magic deeds which transform frogs into princes or punish greedy
fishermen's wives. The phrase informed consent evokes the same
magic expectations. Its protagonists often convey that once kissed
by the doctrine, frog-patients will become autonomous princes. Its
antagonists warn that all the gold of good medical care which physi-
cians now so magnanimously bestow on patients will turn to worth-
less metal if the curse of informed consent were to remain with us.
In listening to people talk about informed consent, I have been
* Professor (Adjunct) of Law and Psychiatry, Yale Law School. The author wishes to
express his appreciation for the thoughtful research and editorial assistance which Robert
Carter, a graduate of the Yale Law School, provided throughout the revision of the manu-
script. The author is indebted to his colleagues Bruce Ackerman, Ralph Brown, Robert Burt,
Owen Fiss, Abraham Goldstein and Arthur Leff for their critical comments. The financial
support of The Kayden Foundation is also gratefully acknowledged.

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