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  • Category: Miscellaneous

    The Semmelweis reflex

    Semmelweis reflex is the instant reflex where one rejects any new finding, discovery or an idea because it contradicts with the already set norms. Although it is a scientific term, it can be observed in our daily lives as well. Many times it happens that youngsters try to explain something to the older generation but they don't accept it as it contradicts their already set beliefs.
    There is an interesting story about how this name was given to this phenomena. Semmelweis was a physician in a renowned hospital. In that hospital, a strange thing started happening. Whenever a woman used to come there for delivery and went to the doctor's/ medical student's ward, she used to catch fever after the child birth and die in some time. On the contrary, any woman going to the midwife's ward used to survive after the child birth. If you think about it, it is quite strange that if someone is going to a doctor she is going to die. So the women giving birth at home itself had more chances of surviving than the one going to a doctor.

    Semmelweis noticed this strange thing; he thought that there is something that these doctors are not doing right. He observed that the doctor used to perform autopsy/ handle cadavers and then with those hands only used to attend to mothers in labor. He thought that the mother catches fever because doctors' hands are contaminated due to some germs from the corpse. He suggested that if doctors wash hands with chlorinated water which is a disinfectant, the whole problem could be solved. This suggestion of Semmelweis was ignored by the medical community. He was insulted and dismissed from the hospital. They thought that it was a stupid idea as they are doing the same thing from years and why should they change it now.

    He was really hurt and angry. He started writing angry letters to various doctors calling them as murderers. People including his wife thought that he had gone mad. He was sent to an asylum where he died within two weeks allegedly because of severe beating by the guards. After sometime, Louis Pasteur came up with the germ theory which supported Semmelweis' hypothesis. His hypothesis was accepted after a long time since his death. When doctors started using chlorinated water, the death rate decreased drastically. For this useful idea, Semmelweis is also known as savior of mothers and after him, the term Semmelweis reflex was termed.

    So, do you now feel that we should be open to new ideas and must be ready to accept changes without being too serious about what we already know or practice?
  • #604397
    I am not able to edit this thread. There are few words which I have written wrong by mistake. I have written fire in place of fever and there are few grammatical mistakes as well. I want to rectify them but I am not able to edit the thread. I request the editors to look into it.
    Don't sweat the small stuff and it's all small stuff.

  • #604399
    You can go back to the thread and below your image where an edit button through which needful can be done appear.
    K Mohan
    'Idhuvum Kadandhu Pogum "
    Even this challenging situation would ease

  • #604427
    Mr. Mohan, I know how it's done. That's my point, the edit link is not working.
    Don't sweat the small stuff and it's all small stuff.

  • #604428
    Wow! It's already been edited. Thanks to the editors.
    Don't sweat the small stuff and it's all small stuff.

  • #604449
    Experience that our elders have gained is now forcing them to reject the new ideas. But people must understand that there is no 100%. Every thing is based on hypothetical and theoretical concepts. Hence there is no way to be sure until the idea is tried. I'm so sorry for Semmelweis. His ideas were never accepted when he was alive.
    But there is always a way to convince the masses. All one must do is to learn the art of persuasion. If only Semmelweis could come up with some clever analogy or an experiment, he could have persuaded the scientific community.

    The stronger a light shines the darker are the shadows around it.

  • #604459
    Here the point is not that always elders are not hearing young. Many cases it is vice versa also. Many times the youngsters will not care for what the elders are advising. It is not that elders are not open for the new things. Elders are always open new useful things in my opinion.

    Either young or old they should care for others words also. Hear what other's but take your own decision. As mentioned by Mr. Aditya Mohan it is the duty of the new finder to make the others accept his version. Simply I am telling you do it, may not work. Some perseverance is required. You explain the others how your theory is going to help and show a trail and prove that your views are correct. Then all will accept. Semmelweis might have shown his theory by performing a delivery by practicing the action what he proposed and shown the other people it is a success. Everybody might have accepted. But unfortunately he couldn't do that. Louis Pasteur is able to convince the people and proved that he is write. The ability of convincing people is the key point here.

    always confident

  • #604463
    Very interesting and incoming lot of thoughts. It is widely seen that new ideas are discarded before understanding them. It is a funny situation but I think we have grown in that way. Stick to your points and ideas; that is the final thing in the world; that sort of mental setup.

    Until unless we analyse the new ideas we will never understand how they are better than the previous ones. Unfortunately most of the people do not have patience to even listen to new ideas what to say of analysing them.

    In such situation the inventor is at the crossroads. There is no one to help him or give a direction to go ahead.

    Thoughts exchanged is knowledge gained.

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