Reviews Book

What Price Better Health? Hazards of the Research Imperative

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 06 May 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:1140
  1. Christopher Martyn, associate editor (
  1. BMJ

    Daniel Callahan

    University of California Press, $29.95/£19.95,

    pp 341 ISBN 0 520 22771 9

    Rating:Embedded ImageEmbedded ImageEmbedded Image

    Also available as a digital download for $12.95

    Thirty years ago, Ivan Illich, with his book Medical Nemesis, launched a powerful attack on modern medicine (BMJ 2002;324: 923). There were three strands to his argument. The first, which he greatly exaggerated, was that much of the disease that doctors treated was iatrogenic. The second, less easily refuted, was that when they placed themselves and their trust in the medical profession, people relinquished the qualities of fortitude and resourcefulness that allowed them to cope when bad things happened to them. The third was about how medicine had escaped its traditional role of looking after the sick to interfere …

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