The Mad Farmer's Medicine: Wendell Berry's Understanding of Health as Wholeness




Brown, William

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As a self-proclaimed contrarian, author Wendell Berry is a fierce critic of many aspects of modern American life. Most of Berry’s work primarily discusses the industrialization of agriculture and the effects this has on rural communities, but he has also written about the healthcare system in both his fiction and an essay titled “Health is Membership”. While many people agree there are flaws in the American healthcare industry, some readers might dismiss Berry’s criticism due to his lack of medical training. In this essay, I will argue that Berry’s understanding of health as wholeness is not only sound but leaves aspiring physicians with a wider understanding of “health.” In both his fiction and non-fiction, Berry’s definition of health necessarily places an emphasis on communal well-being while highlighting the limitations of medicine. In a time of pandemic, the local wisdom of this “Mad Farmer” might be more important than ever before.



Wendell Berry., Healthcare., Agrarianism.