What If Medicine Disappeared?

By Gerald E. Markle & Frances B. McCrea

Subjects: Sociology, Health And Society, Medical Sociology, Medical Ethics, Medical Anthropology
Paperback : 9780791473061, 245 pages, January 2008
Hardcover : 9780791473054, 245 pages, January 2008

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Table of contents

1. Disappearance

2. Primary Care

3. Surgery

4. Emergency Medicine

5. Pharmaceuticals

6. Mental Illness

7. Mind-Body

8. A World Without Medicine

Appendix A. Alternative Medicine
Appendix B. Thought Experiments
Appendix C. Medicine and Mortality


Argues convincingly, if counterintuitively, that modern medicine has little impact on longevity or mortality.


In this thought-provoking book, sociologists Gerald E. Markle and Frances B. McCrea ask what would happen if Western medicine were to disappear. Using a rigorous and imaginative method—a thought experiment—Markle and McCrea evaluate medicine's impact on mortality and our national health. They examine various aspects of medicine, such as primary care, surgery, emergency medicine, pharmaceuticals, and mental illness treatment, and convincingly point out the problems that health care actually causes. Supporting their ideas with statistics and studies from medical and social science literature, Markle and McCrea argue that the medical model, despite its tremendous budget and hype, accomplishes far less than most would think. Their conclusions should promote critical review and lively discussion among medical consumers as well as among health care professionals and policy makers.

Gerald E. Markle is Professor of Sociology at Western Michigan University and the author of Meditations of a Holocaust Traveler, also published by SUNY Press. Frances B. McCrea is Professor of Sociology at Grand Valley State University. Together, they are the coauthors ofMinutes to Midnight: Nuclear Weapons Protest in America.


"…the authors' analyses may well prove eye-opening and instructive for all consumers of heath care … the book is lively, engaging, determinedly provocative, and invaluable in assessing not only of our public health care expenditures, but of our private, individual health care decisions." — Metapsychology

"A very fast, entertaining, and provocative read." — Allan Mazur, author of Biosociology of Dominance and Deference