Zachary's Reviews > Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor

Pathologies of Power by Paul Farmer
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's review
Nov 07, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: health
Read in November, 2007

Pathologies of Power is the impassioned work of Dr. Paul Farmer (whose life was detailed in Mountains Beyond Mountains), a doctor on a mission to provide health care to the world's poor. In Pathologies of Power, Dr. Farmer discusses the systems that cause those living in poverty to suffer increased threats to their human rights, especially their health, a concept he terms "structural violence." He goes on to write that more must be done than simply researching and recognizing these human rights abuses, action or "pragmatic solidarity" must be undertaken to relieve the stresses endured by the poor. Dr. Farmer's theorhetcial background is based on Liberation Theology, which describes not only seeking to provide treatment to the poor, but preferential treatment. Too many projects are limited by talk of sustainablility and cost-efficacy, Farmer argues, and ideas based solely on prevention shamefully ignore those that are already ill. Beyond plans of giving charity or promoting development, to truly change the lives of the poor for the better, we must seek social justice. While I don't agree with all of Farmer's points, I side with him in many respects and I admire his serious approach to dealing with issues of human rights. There are many short poems and quotes interspersed throughout the book as well that act as further evidence in conveying his message, that the voices of the poor are being silenced in many places and we can stand for that no longer.

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