Ivan Illich (Medical Nemesis, 1975) wrote …
“The study of the evolution of disease patterns provides evidence that during the last century doctors have affected epidemics no more profoundly than did priests during earlier times. Epidemics came and went, imprecated by both but touched by neither. They are not modified any more decisively by the rituals performed in medical clinics than by those customary at religious shrines.”
Most folks know “iatrogenesis” refers to adverse effects or complications caused by or resulting from medical treatment.
Ivan Illich referred to it as CLINICAL IATROGENESIS, and described two other levels of iatrogenesis, even more pernicious than the first …
SOCIAL IATROGENESIS – “…medical practice sponsors sickness by reinforcing a morbid society that encourages people to become consumers of curative, preventive, industrial, and environmental medicine. [...] Second-level iatrogenesis finds its expression in various symptoms of social overmedicalization that amounts to what I call the expropriation of health.”
CULTURAL IATROGENESIS – “…the so-called health professionals have an even deeper culturally health-denying effect insofar as they destroy the potential of people to deal with their human weakness, vulnerability, and uniqueness in a personal and autonomous way. The patient in the grip of contemporary medicine is but one instance of mankind in the grip of its pernicious techniques. This cultural iatrogenesis [...] is the ultimate backlash of hygienic progress and consists in the paralysis of healthy responses to suffering, impairment, and death. It occurs when people accept health management based on the engineering model, when they conspire in an attempt to produce, as if it were a commodity, something called ‘better health.’ This invariably results in the managed maintenance of life on high levels of sublethal illness. This ultimate evil of medical ‘progress’ must be clearly distinguished from both clinical and social iatrogenesis.”
Cultural iatrogenesis transforms us all into co-conspirators stuck in the “golden spiderweb” of the Medical Industrial Complex.
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