eBook di filosofia: I. Illich, Medical Nemesis. The Expropriation of Health


Ivan Illich, Medical Nemesis. The Expropriation of Health

Medical Nemesis was first published in 1974 by Calder and Boyars. A further version, Limits to Medicine: Medical Nemesis – The Expropriation of Health, was published in January 1975 in Ideas in Progress, ‘a series of working papers dealing with alternatives to industrial society.’ A further version of Limits to Medicine (‘written as a result of the world-wide response which the author received upon publication of the original draft’) was published in 1976 by Marion Boyars, and this is the version which I will refer to throughout this paper. Medical Nemesis was a natural development of Illich’s ideas on institutions and professions. He argued that modern medicine had hubristically taken on a mission to eradicate pain, sickness, even death. These were, he argued, eternal human realities, which we must learn to cope with: in fact, coping with these verities is what it means to be ‘healthy’. Although Illich did not coin the word ‘iatrogenesis’ – meaning the harm done by doctors – he certainly popularised it. He described three types of iatrogenesis: clinical, or the direct harm done by various medical treatments; social, or the medicalisation of ordinary life; and cultural, meaning the loss of traditional ways of dealing with suffering.”

tratto da S O’Mahony,  Medical Nemesis 40 years on: the enduring legacy of Ivan Illich

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