Midwifery. Witch hunts. Men’s prejudice. Medicine & dogmatism.

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The first clear evidence of clinical benefit from hand hygiene came from Semmelweis, working in the Great Hospital in Vienna in the 1840s. The hospital had two obstetric departments, and women were admitted alternately, whatever their clinical condition, to one or the other. In the first, they were attended by medical students who moved straight from the necropsy room to the delivery suite. In the second, they were attended by midwives and midwifery students who had no contact with the necropsy room. The incidence of maternal death was as high as 18% in the first department, with puerperal fever the main cause, but only 2% in the second. Semmelweis observed that a colleague died from an illness similar to puerperal fever after being accidentally cut during a necropsy. He concluded that the infecting particles responsible for puerperal fever came from cadavers and were transmitted by hand to women attended by medical students in the first department. He therefore instituted hand disinfection with chlorinated lime for those leaving the necropsy room, after which maternal morbidity in the first department fell to the levels achieved by the second department. (1, 2)

Semmelweis’ discovery directly confronted with the beliefs of science and medicine in his time. His colleagues and other medical professionals refused to accept his findings mainly because they did not find it convincing that they could be responsible for spreading infections. The reaction reflected on his job as well when he was declined a reappointment in 1849.

The continued criticism and lash out finally broke him down. By 1865, he was suffering from depression, forgetfulness and other neural complaints and was eventually committed to an asylum. He only lasted there for two weeks and died on August 13, 1865 at the age of 47. (3)

Most sites reproducing the case of hand-washing and doctors bad attitude towards it simply emphasize the fact that doctors in the abovementioned clinic used to perform autopsies and then go treat pregnant women, while midwives in the other clinic did not. Although this was indeed the main case (see the original paper here), there is much more to see. Things you can find if you look deeper. Things not immediately evident from reading Wikipedia scientism-biased articles.

The first important teaching from this story is the way doctors treated advice towards them by someone outside the mainstream “cast”. They could not accept the fact that they were the cause of death. They could not accept that they even had dirty hands (!) (4, 5, 6) (“gentlemen do not have dirty hands”)

The second important thing to note is the way normal people (midwives) used to have more wisdom than the scientists. To complete the story in the beginning of the article, except the obvious difference between doctors and midwives (that the latter did not perform autopsies) there was another one which was the truly important one: that midwives tended to wash hands more often that doctors. This was something noted by the renowned Lister (7, 8). Researches on the matter show that midwives did have good hygiene practices (9 – see for example Midwifery Act 1902), (something one could see showcased by the “mysterious” fact of the World Health Organization celebrating “Washing hands” – see here – and the ICM celebrating International Midwife Day – see here – on the same date).

It is interesting to note that in the early 20th century rich women were more likely to die in childbirth than poor women. (Mary Wollstonecraft was one victim of an incompetent doctor; she died of puerperal fever after delivering a daughter who would grow up to write Frankenstein.) For almost any other cause of death, the poor were more likely to die than the rich. But for childbirth, poor women could afford only midwives. Rich women could afford doctors. (11)

After we (men) chased down women healers as witches (12) (yes, the ability to HEAL was one of the charges against witches!) we now have men ruling obstetrics. And even though home births are AS SAFE AS hospital births (13), the man-midwife (doctors) replaced the “bad witches” (14, 15).

Everything is good now.

Now we can all afford doctors or – even if we can’t  – must see one or simply die.

Now we dogmatically “know” that we know better and that the old ones were useless humanoids simply lucky to be alive.

Sure medicine has learnt its lesson. Sure it saves lives now. (Does it? See here)

But how many lives has it killed so far due to its dogmatism? How many more lives can be saved if the “all lightly” doctors listen to the popular wisdom of “ordinary” people like the midwives – even today?

Dogmatism can be truly deadly. Even before birth…

Brain “dead” and the Industry of Transplants…

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Brain dead is not necessarily… “dead”!

The fact is that the criteria for “death” based on “the death of the brain” were invented by a committee at Harvard (hence the “Harvard Criteria”, based on 0 experiments by the way) the members of which had relations to organ transplantation. And today these criteria are used to support a multi-billion dollar industry on the “pretty dead” donors bodies which can still feel, urinate, have fever, heal wounds, fight infections or to carry (a very complex process which is conducted by living organisms) and deliver babies (1, 2)…

People are characterized as brain dead based on a very specific set of criteria, among which is the activity of the brain stem. But these criteria do not look out for activity in other (higher) brain regions. And these criteria do not take into account the fact that these “pretty dead” (an interesting phrase quoted from a scientist) people have all those abovementioned functions which are closely related to LIVING individuals!

Anesthesiologists (see Gail A. Van Norman and the paper “What Anesthesiologists Should Know About What Neurologists Should Know About Declaring Brain Death” for example) report cases where brain death was declared despite the fact that the patient was responsive. And it is very interesting (and frightening and horrible altogether) that anesthesiologists, based on their findings, have started using anesthesia during organ harvesting from brain dead patients due to strong indications that these people actually FEEL PAIN which the harvest (what a word!) takes place!!! (and actually dies because someone… opens him and takes his organs) (3, 4)

As Van Norman says, no living patients should be sacrificed to benefit others.

Medicine has for a long time now been traveling down the road of Money. And this is one of the worst examples of this practice.

Let us not fall into the trap of Medicine which wants to be a Religion. Everyone must be judged. And doctors are not Gods. They cannot decide who is “dead” and who is not based on their own personal criteria.

Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter!

How doctors choose to die

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People die. And even if we do not think of it too much, even doctors die! But how do they treat the possibility of death?

It is surprising to see that when faced with a terminal illness, medical professionals, who know the limits of modern medicine, often opt out of life-prolonging treatment.

Years ago, Charlie, a highly respected orthopaedist, found a lump in his stomach. He asked a surgeon to explore the area, and the diagnosis was pancreatic cancer. This surgeon was one of the best in the country. He had even invented a new procedure for this exact cancer that could triple a patient’s five-year-survival odds – from five per cent to 15% – albeit with a poor quality of life. Charlie was uninterested. He went home the next day, closed his practice, and never set foot in a hospital again. He focused on spending time with his family and feeling as good as possible. Several months later, he died at home. He received no chemotherapy, radiation, or surgical treatment. (1, 2)

Doctors understand what many people do not: most life-prolonging treatments could be easily characterized as tortures that you wouldn’t like to happen even to your enemy. Doctors want to make sure that they will never experience, during their last moments on Earth, someone breaking their ribs in an attempt to resuscitate them with CPR (that’s what happens if CPR is done right). That no one will force tubes and drugs inside them that will make them incapable of living. It does not matter if the system or the lack of philosophy is to be blamed for the “over medication” or the “over treatment” of people with terminal illnesses.

Sticking too much in one thing (even if that is life itself) can lead to wrong paths. What many scientism-lovers think of “progress” is refuted by the very same professionals who practice it. That should make us think twice on what medicine really is. Helping others, loving one another, being compassionate, is what makes us humans. Doing all that and even more is what Progress should actually be.

Seeing our selfs too much like a machine may have exactly the result we expect: that we start thinking as machines too.

Sometimes the way forward, is to go backwards where we were all children and everything was pure and innocent.

Treat your self with respect. Live your life and stop watching House too much…

Related articleWhy Medicine is NOT a pro-Science argument!