Medical Nemesis:

The Expropriation of Health


Ivan Illich

Random House, NY, NY, 1976.

Medical Nemesis


While Medical Nemesis is decades old,
the book deserves to find its way back into libraries and common readership.
That said, it is not an easy read.
Illich was widely read, very knowledgeable,
and his writing was meant for thoughtful, attentive readers rather than the general public.

Ivan Illich’s basic premise is the modern medicine has become a Nemesis.
It produces illness and disease (iatrogenesis) in three particular ways:
clinical, social, and cultural.
Nemesis (in ancient Greek thinking) was the inevitable punishment
for attempts to be a hero rather than a human being.

Begin Reading.


PART I. Clinical latrogenesis

1. The Epidemics of Modern Medicine
Doctors' Effectiveness — an Illusion
Useless Medical Treatment
Doctor-Inflicted Injuries
Defenseless Patients 

PART II. Social latrogenesis
2. The Medicalization of Life
Political Transmission of Iatrogemc Disease
–– Social latrogenesis
–– Medical Monopoly
–– Value-Free Cure?
The Medicalization of the Budget
The Pharmaceutical Invasion
Diagnostic Imperialism
Preventive Stigma
Terminal Ceremonies
Black Magic
Patient Majorities
PART III. Cultural latrogenesis
3. The Killing of Pain

4. The Invention and Elimination of Disease

5. Death Against Death
Death as Commodity
The Devotional Dance of the Dead
The Danse Macabre
Bourgeois Death
Clinical Death
Trade Union Claims to a Natural Death
Death Under Intensive Care

PART IV. The Politics of Health
6. Specific Counterproductivity

7. Political Countermeasures
Consumer Protection for Addicts
Equal Access to Torts
Public Controls over the Professional Mafia
The Scientific Organization—of Life Engineering for a Plastic Womb

8. The Recovery of Health
Industrialized Nemesis
From Inherited Myth to Respectful Procedure
The Right to Health
Health as a Virtue

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