For decades people have put themselves in the hands of professionals, doctors, lawyers, clergy, educators, or others, with an unequivocal faith and trust that would not allow them to question even the competence, and certainly not the ethics, of their practices. They rarely questioned the advice; they did what they were told, and they were grateful for the privilege of doing so. Indeed, the professions were cloaked with a dignity and respect only deserved by and accorded to those of high honor and unquestionable character.
Today the realities are different. Each week the newspapers report the alleged wrongdoing of another trusted professional. Television shows regularly document these abuses and so today we have come to expect, and even demand, information, answers, and choices from the professionals who serve us. We routinely avail ourselves of second opinions in order to be sure that we can trust what we are told. Informed consent has become an expectation and not just an ideal.
Those of us who engage professionals are also quick to hold them accountable when something goes awry. Our despair over a poor result is as often voiced in the courts as it is in the privacy of our homes. And all too often, we are justified.
That, however, is not the end of the story. We have also come to