Inside The O Briens Analysis

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Lisa Genova’s Inside the O’Briens explores the impact of a genetic, neurological disease on a close-knit family. For this particular book, Genova selected to examine how Huntington’s disease can affect the relationships and lives of family members following a diagnosis. Joe O’Brien is the primary character targeted by this disease, but his family absorbs the shock via adjustments to symptoms and possible diagnosis later in life. Throughout this analysis, I will consider how Joe’s novel diagnosis impacts his family members, identify the key issues and points about Huntington’s disease, and indicate how reading this book has affected my understanding of Huntington’s disease, as well as other neurodegenerative diseases. Prior to continuing, …show more content…
For example, JJ and his wife Colleen are revealed to be expecting a child following Joe’s diagnosis, leading to JJ’s prompt genetic testing. This raises questions related to fertility and the responsibility of prospective parents in raising their child. While measures can be taken to decrease the risk that a child will inherit the disease, nothing can be done following conception. JJ reveals to Joe that he wonders if Colleen will go through with the pregnancy following JJ’s prospective genetic diagnosis. He questions if it is right to bring a child into this world with a possible known fate of Huntington’s disease, although the chance of inheritance is still half. In addition to Joe and Colleen, near the end of the book Patrick reveals that a girl he had relations with is pregnant. This revelation raises the moral question of whether it is Patrick’s responsibility to get tested for the gene and inform the mother of the baby. In both situations, genetic testing in babies is at issue. Amniocentesis could reveal certain genes, such as the one for Huntington’s disease, but if these genes come back with a positive result then the next step should be considered morally and ethically. The embryo cannot speak for itself, thus leaving the decision to the parents. It is burdensome to know that the baby will grow up to have a disease, possibly fatal, and not …show more content…
For example, the financial aspect of Huntington’s disease was mentioned. Joe expressed concern multiple times throughout the book about leaving Rosie with little to no money following his passing. Care for Huntington’s disease is expensive, as it involves many medications and therapies to slow the progression towards death. This may involve difficult decisions, such as the one Joe and Rosie made to get divorced in order to save the family from financial collapse. In addition, acceptance of the disease is an important point. Throughout the book, Joe did not appear to accept that he had Huntington’s disease. He continued to work and live his life as if he had not been diagnosed; however, I think that he truly accepted that he had Huntington’s disease when he learned that Meghan and JJ also had the same fate. It is necessary to personally accept that something has occurred or is going to occur because either way it will be present. Acceptance leads to understanding, which leads to lower anxiety. Joe seemed to have less anxiety at the end of the book, as well as his

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