Medical Nemesis: The Expropriation of Health

Illich, Ivan

Original publication date: 1976
Original publisher: New York: Random House
Publication status: Out of print

Nemesis was a Greek deity who brought forth unintended consequences that ruined the efforts of those who pridefully or arrogantly tried to control fate. Illich asserts that modern medicine has become a major threat to our health, our nemesis. The book considers how medicine should fit into human life so it enhances spiritual awareness, independence and personal development. Instead, medicine has become something that destroys personal responsibility and courage.

Dependence on AMA-style medicine creates ill health on many levels. Many of the most expensive procedures have little or no proven health benefit or at best add but a few tortured years.

This book primarily expresses Illich’s opinions on what life is all about, how life should be led, what people actually are. Illich is an extreme libertarian who refuses to be suppressed and sees most of modern society as an effort to suppress the humanity of those in its grip.

Illich was born in 1926 in Vienna, Austria and grew up in Europe. He obtained degrees in history, philosophy and theology. In 1950 he came to New York where he worked as a parish priest in an Irish-Puerto Rican neighborhood. Then he moved to Puerto Rico and from there to Cuernavaca, Mexico.

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