Friday, 29 January 2010

The Semmelweis reflex, the opposite and another possibility

The Semmelweis reflex is a metaphor for the reflex-like rejection in most of us of new ideas or possibilities because it contradicts entrenched norms, beliefs, tradition, cultures or paradigms.

It refers to Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian physician, who discovered by 1847 that the incidence of puerperal fever could be drastically cut by the use of hand disinfection in obstetrical clinics. Puerperal fever (or childbed fever) was common in that time hospitals and killed 10%–35% of women giving birth.

Despite various publications of results where hand-washing reduced mortality below 1%, Semmelweis's suggestions were rejected by his contemporaries and were largely ignored, rejected or ridiculed. He was dismissed from the hospital for political reasons and harassed by the medical community in Vienna.

The opposite to the Semmelweis reflex also exists. We could call it "the believe all reflex", in which one believes almost everything, the more strange the better.....

Would it be possible to live without beliefs? would it be possible to see the limitations of a concept of a belief? would it be possible to see how our mind works almost constantly through patterns of ideas?...and to see this not just intelectually (which would be another belief)? the way.....what is a belief?


  1. Anonymous11:03

    do we see reality through ideas???

  2. what do we understand by idea? what is in reality an idea?

  3. Anonymous19:37

    would it be possible to realize completely how our mind works?