By 1985, Ivan Illich had come to the conclusion that "today's major pathogen [is] the pursuit of a healthy body." Twelve years earlier, in Medical Nemesis, he had famously stated that the "medical establishment" was a major threat to health and he identified many of its "iatrogenic" effects. But in subsequent years, he had seen that "the experience of 'our bodies and our selves' had become the result of medical concepts and cares." He explained his revised thinking in a "Plea for Body History," published in an issue of Lancet in 1986. Later, it showed up in a collection of Illich's essays, In the Mirror of the Past. (This essay may be read online, one page at a time, at the Michigan Quarterly Review.)
We recently ran across a somewhat sarcastic and humorous essay written in response to Illich's plea, "Philosophers and other threats to health." It appeared in the British Medical Journal for May 9, 1987, and it is available in PDF format right here. The author is George Dunea, an Australian doctor based in Chicago. In 1975, he began writing a regular column for BMJ called "Letter from Chicago." A nephrologist, he once converted a Maytag washing machine into a dialysis machine. Quite appropriate for the very good writer he is, Dr. Dunea is currently editor in chief of Hektoen International, a journal in the field of medical humanities.