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A Retrospective on Ivan Illich
  1. Carlos Alvarez-Dardet,
  2. John R Ashton, Joint Editors

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    We devote a considerable amount of space to Ivan Illich, who died in December 2002. This includes his original article “Medical Nemesis”, which was published in the Lancet in 1974, and his obituary from the London Times from last December, republished by kind permission of the newspaper. We also have several personal perspectives on a man who would have been regarded in Yorkshire as somewhat “rum”. These pieces speak for themselves, but clearly Illich was unique and in his writings he challenged the hegemony of medicine (as well as other professional groups) possibly more effectively than the British playwright George Bernard Shaw, who described all professions as being “conspiracies against the laity”.1 As Richard Edwards points out, Illich anticipated the evidence based healthcare movement, and he was anticipating the need for an economics of health rather than the economics of …

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