Medical Nemesis

Doctor Death: Why medical care isn’t responsible for the historic decline in mortality

“To protect us against doctors there is no law against ignorance, no example of capital punishment. Doctors learn at our risk, they experiment and kill with sovereign impunity, in fact the doctor is the only one who may kill. They go further and make the patient responsible: they blame him who has succumbed.”
— Plinius Secundus, Naturalis Historia

Marcus Aurelius espoused a moral standard nearly two thousand years ago when he wrote that a man should “be upright, not be kept upright.” Punishment and prodding are there to guide low, immoral souls. The noble soul should be one in ouisia with his virtue. Being moral because you are afraid of punishment is for rogues.

We once imagined that the professional classes were somehow being kept upright, that systems have been put in place in order to keep all those medical professionals “upright.” We believed that malpractice lawsuits or medical associations kept doctors from being reckless, or that hospital administrators were keeping nurses from forming covens in the basement. The reality, however, is that doctors, administrators, and regulators are all part of a parasitic system.

In 1970 in Bogota, Columbia, for a fifty-two day period doctors vanished from hospitals and lined the streets, leaving only skeleton crews for emergency care. The National Catholic Reporter described a “string of unusual side effects” from the strike: the death rate went down 35%.

When doctors go on strike, death rates go down. In times past, such an observation would be in the realm of mildly provocative party conversation. Only a short time ago (two years), the average person practiced a casual skepticism towards ‘pill-pushers’, ‘quacks’ and ‘leeches’. But now that physicians are sacrosanct, it is grounds for instant disinvitation — the party has become a mob of pod people.

The most comprehensive review of the medical impact of doctors’ strikes, published in the academic journal Social Science and Medicine, is Doctor’s Strikes and Mortality, conducted by Cunningham et al. A team of researchers at Emory and Georgetown Universities in the US analyzed five physician strikes around the world, all between 1976 and 2003. Every article reviewed showed that population mortality during such strikes (the main reason being ‘better pay’) either stays the same, or decreases. The length of the strikes ranged from nine days to three months. Yet even in the longest one where all resident physicians ceased to provide care (except family care physicians in teaching hospitals) there was no significant change in mortality rates.

The purpose of a strike is to deprive labor and thereby cause damage to the efficiency of production, inflicting a loss of profit. One would assume a doctors’ strike would be intended to degrade the efficiency of care, inflicting a loss of life. What these doctors didn’t, or couldn’t have predicted, however, is that the opposite would occur.

The Los Angeles County strike in January of 1976 saw doctors protesting over marginal increases in their medical malpractice insurance premiums. For five weeks, approximately 50% of doctors in the county reduced their practice and withheld care. Roemer and Schwartz found that Los Angeles County residents experienced minimal reductions in access to medical care during the strike. They also saw that mortality declined significantly from week one (21 deaths/100,000 population) to weeks six (13) and seven (14), when mortality rates were lower than the averages of the previous five years. A total 18% drop in the death rate occurred. When the strike ended and the medical machines started grinding again, it went right back up to where it had been before the strike.

Another one in Israel in 1973 saw doctors reducing their daily patient contact by 90%. The strike lasted a month, during which the death rate dropped 50%. (There had not been such a profound decrease in mortality since the last strike!) Cunningham and colleagues point out that striking physicians in Jerusalem opened aid stations, supplementing medical care. In truth, most doctors in Jerusalem provided care in a private or partially private context.

The authors of Doctor’s Strikes and Mortality also take a moment to note a 25-week nurses’ strike in Paris, which had no effect on mortality. The same happened with a nurse and hospital staff strike in Sweden, which revealed that mortality rates significantly decreased for the duration of the labor action.

Our heroic nurses’ triumph can be found everywhere. In Kenya, for example, nurse and clinical officer strikes did not significantly impact mortality. In Finland, the absence of nurses during a strike led instead to greater initiative, responsibility and independence among schizophrenia patients, while in France a nurses’ strike in a geriatric hospital did not induce an increase in mortality in the population of elderly patients.


Though we have experienced constant and unabating conditioning to convince us otherwise, with magical TV doctors and medical miracle documentaries, there is actually very little evidence that doctors have been responsible for the historic decline in mortality. Various researchers suggest that environmental and dietary factors might in fact be responsible. Physician and demographic historian Thomas Mckeown, for example, writes:

”The decline of mortality in the second half of the nineteenth was due wholly to a reduction of deaths from infectious diseases; there was no evidence of a decline in other causes of death. Examination of the diseases which contributed to the decline suggested that the main influences were: (a) rising standards of living, of which the most significant feature was a better diet; (b) improvements in hygiene; and (c) a favorable trend in the relationship between some micro-organisms and the human host. Therapy made no contributions, and the effect of immunization was restricted to smallpox which accounted for only about one-twentieth of the reduction of the death rate.”

Deadly doctors are not only revealed by strikes; academic conferences could also save lives. A 2018 paper found that patients being treated for heart conditions have lower 30-day mortality during dates of national cardiology meetings. The authors admit: “our study’s main limitation was an inability to establish why AMI mortality is lower during TCT meetings.”

Among the medical profession, all of these effects are well known and regarded as curiosities, or topics of diverting conversation. Since 1978 medical science has been trying to handwave away the puzzling positive correlation of physicians per capita and mortality rates… of children. A 1979 paper reveals: “We believe that the results outlined in the next section are both interesting and amusing… the correlation between prevalence of doctors and pediatricians and mortality is large and positive in the younger age groups, it is positive in young adult life, and it only becomes negative in the two oldest age groups.” It is ‘interesting and amusing’ that doctors seem to be deadly to children…

At this point it should be clear — a doctor embedded in a hospital offers is a therapeutic relationship with a pathogen. The doctor has been reengineered as heteronomous manager of sub-lethal illness. Your health is of no concern, the only desire is to get your condition under control. However, once removed from the hospital, as an autonomous entity, the doctor is able to resume his role as healer. Hospitals themselves are but the external organs of industrial-medical civilization. It is a problem of scale and the inhuman, machinic forces that govern those places. Death by hospital, or iatrogenic death, is the predictable outcome.

Many drugs that physicians hurl at their patients are horribly addictive, some drugs lobotomize or mutilate, others are mutagenic, interacting with the thousands of arcane chemicals found in food additives and insecticides. Antibiotics can destroy the gut biome, vaccines maim, gene therapy devices cause hearts to explode. Death by non-disease, or the lethal treatment of non-existent diseases, has killed an untold number of young, healthy people.

Let’s put things in perspective for a moment.

In the US in 2020 according to official CDC stats, the leading cause of death was heart disease, with 690,000 deaths. Heart disease is broadly known to be caused by the inflammation brought on by seed oils and other poisonous ‘food’. The failure and corruption of the American Heart Association and other medical associations is at least partially responsible for these deaths.

The second leading cause was cancer, with 599,000 deaths. The widely known suppression of alternative cancer treatments, however, is likely a contributing factor. Numerous studies have shown there is no direct evidence that chemotherapy prolongs survival in patients with advanced-stage cancers. Additionally, the curative contribution of chemotherapy to five-year survival in adults is estimated to be 2.3%.

The third leading cause was direct iatrogenic death, causing approximately 400,000 hospital deaths. (Reminder: the reported Covid death toll in the United States in 2020 was 345,000.) But the number is a mere handkerchief over the obscene number of lives devastated by non-fatal iatrogenic injury. The vast majority of iatrogenic illness and injury also goes unreported. It is estimated that only 6% of adverse drug reactions are reported. The vaccine injury reporting system VAERS is known to reflect only 10% of all injuries. Therefore, the number is likely merely the tip of an iceberg due to the scarcity of actual data and underreporting of iatrogenic illnesses.

By promoting their expensive, ineffective, and deadly solutions, as well as actively lobbying against alternative methods, the medical industry is socially and politically iatrogenic, leading some to speculate over the years that “the number one killer in [our] society is the healthcare system.”


One insight we might derive from the strikes is that those doctors that picket are the ones willing to take industrial action over malpractice insurance premiums. In the 1976 Los Angeles strike only 50% of physicians were involved. The ones that remained were the ones whose main concern was for their patients.

That was 1976, however. I strongly suspect the percentage of so-called ‘good doctors’ is much lower half a century later. Industrial medicine since has only continued to increase in scale, providing more bureaucratic crevices for negligent doctors to thrive. Doctors have been totally transformed from artisans to technicians, callously interacting with their patients through layers of sterilized abstraction.

Existing in the Sisyphean hell of health systems, hospital bureaucrats apply technical solutions to problems caused by technology, a self-reinforcing iatrogenic loop that Ivan Illich called Medical Nemesis:

”The true miracle of modern medicine is diabolical. It consists in making not only individuals but whole populations survive on inhumanly low levels of personal health. Medical nemesis is the negative feedback of asocial organization that set out to improve and equalize the opportunity for each man to cope in autonomy and ended by destroying it.”

Illich’s solution was autonomy. He believed that many illnesses are caused by industrial medicine, exposure to the residue of medical science, or phantoms created by the health care industry. The more complex and expensive a procedure was, therefore, the less likely it was to cure the patient, with many of them being pushed because expensive, regardless of outcomes. To counter that, Illich argued for the demystification and deprofessionalization of medicine, stating that most illnesses can be treated at home, and that often the most effective treatments are the simplest:

“Man’s consciously lived fragility, individuality, and relatedness make the experience of pain, of sickness, and of death an integral part of his life. The ability to cope with this trio autonomously is fundamental to his health. As he becomes dependenton the management of his intimacy, he renounces his autonomy and his health must decline.”

Pain has a metaphysical component. It spurs on growth, awakens the mind and opens obscure dimensions of the self, hidden artifacts of inner space. The experience of pain is often the result of our operative principles, our true intentions coming to fruition, regardless of our delusions or external manipulation. Pain is revelatory, it is for many the first encounter with the threshold of the sacred.

The rituals and methods one deploys in the face of disease determine the quality of the being that emerges from the trial. Running to a strange, callous technician that will chemically separate your mind from your body is a transformative act. Treating your pain like the malfunction of a machine will ensure you are reborn, in some measure, as a cybernetic corpse.

When doctors are embedded in their communities and they are treating their friends, neighbors, or co-religionists, however, their patient care constitutes an entirely separate phenomenon from what occurs in hospitals.

The only solution, therefore, is to abolish hospitals and the industrial medical nemesis, as they are centers of pestilence which should be shunned by all. They cannot be reformed. The TV image of the doctor, as techno-shaman banishing illness, was born out of an idolatrous demand for manipulation. He is the fetish of an industrially created and preserved population.

We must return to the country doctor. Return to autonomy. Cast off the addiction to pathogenic relationships which corrupt and enslave. Health is derived from a living relationship with the genius of the land, not from locking ourselves away in perverse ‘containment theater’. Do not simply cope with dystopia, nor adapt to the structural iatrogenesis of the medical civilization. Confront the vulnerability and weakness of your mortal condition in a way which preserves the legacy of humanity.

Schwab is a writer and researcher. He writes on

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