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Limits to Medicine: Medical Nemesis - The Expropriation of Health (Pelican) [Paperback]

Ivan Illich
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Limits to Medicine: Medical Nemesis - The Expropriation of Health (Penguin social sciences) Limits to Medicine: Medical Nemesis - The Expropriation of Health (Penguin social sciences) 4.0 out of 5 stars (2)
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Book Description

26 May 1977 Pelican
Medical institutions and practice come under Illich's scrutiny in this statement.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (26 May 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140220097
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140220094
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 581,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I first learned of Illich's anti-industrialist, slightly Marxist perspective, as an A-level sociology student studying education. Ten years later, being a disillusioned health professional in the NHS, I was inexorably drawn to this book when searching for works on medical sociology. Although the book was written over twenty years ago the general theme remains relevant (perhaps even more so with increased spending on health) in the first decade of the twentieth century. The central idea of the book is 'iatrogenesis' or, the creation of ill health through medical intervention. This is either directly in the form of unnecessary surgery gone wrong or the latent undermining of the population's acceptance of responsibility for their own health and healing. Both the medical profession and the public are equally to blame in this process. While it is hard to disagree with many of the ideas proposed it is the style of the prose which is the most challenging aspect of the work. One assumes that Illich has never heard of the practise of circumlocution and many passages are extremely tortuous and convoluted, making it pretty hard going to get to the end; especially when the main ideas are to be found in the first three chapters. On the whole I would say the challenge is worth undertaking particularly if you like to explore radical perspectives on issues central to life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of genius 7 Mar 2012
This is a work of genius. Illich clearly sets out the book's intent from the beginning; 'The medical establishment has become a major threat to health. The disabling impact of professional control over medicine has reached the proportions of an epidemic'. Here and elsewhere Illich challenges some of society's most cherished assumptions, like our unquestioning belief in the benefits of universal education, and here the idea that health improvements during the lifetime of industrial capitalism have resulted from the increase in provision and quality of health care. Supported by a depth of literature unmatched anywhere else in social studies Illich rubbishes this idea, arguing instead that the last 100 years or so has seen a rise in power of the medical profession and medical institutions without them having contributed markedly to the improvements in life expectancy or general health we enjoy. His critique is not only of modern medicine, but of a lethal and disabling capitalism in general. Written in the 1970s, this work is even more relevant in 2012 in the UK as a Coalition government seeks to administer its death-blow to the National Health Service.
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