Semmelweis Syndrome is dead – long live Semmelweis syndrome!!!

Yes, i mean it.

There are many chances that many of us could get this syndrome. What is this all about? Why suddenly am speaking this after explaining the “CAN” theory in my previous post? Are they interrelated? Why should I speak about it now? I know all these questions would buzz around you, immediately after reading this title.

You have to think for a while. Why CAN is required after Want? In “I” environment, we are no more consumers (though many of us are in the phase of transformation from consumers to prosumers). I wish to answer some the queries raised by some of my folks after reading my previous post.

Recently I read 2 interesting articles about Ignaz Semmelweis ((a Hungarian doctor), who found the solution for “childbed fever” in mid 1800s, where there was no awareness about “Germs”) and one on Systems thinking, both from the blogs of Mr. Trip Babbitt. What is the connection between Semmelweis’ stories with this post? Long back if you remember, I wrote about “MBA system’s

importance and the concept of System Thinking. After reading all these, I wish to correlate the systems thinking and “CAN” concept in “I” environment. Will they really go in hand? Sure, systems’ thinking is an integral part of “CAN” in “I” environment. How? Let’s explore it in detail here.

In systems thinking, we all know it is thinking “outside the system”. If we were still in want stage, we would be happy with what we had, but we are not. Why? Is this greedy? Need not be all the times. But certainly this is the stage all of us wish to get transform. In such a case, CAN is really possible with system thinking alone. Till “Want” stage we were in the mind set of command and controlled thinking.

Semmelweis syndrome essentially explains about bringing change to the environment. The concept of germs and infections was not yet known at that time, and the prevailing theory was that all diseases are caused by an imbalance of the four liquids (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, black bile) in the body. Thus the prevailing wisdom was that childbed fever was because the mother had an imbalance of the liquids.

One day Semmelweis’ friend died after accidently getting a cut while doing an autopsy on a corpse. The symptoms were strikingly similar to mothers with childbed fever. Semmelweis hypothesized that the fever could be caused by something in the corpse being transmitted by the physician to the blood stream of the mother. To test this, Semmelweis asked everyone to wash their hands in a solution of chlorine before handling childbirth. Immediately mortality rates dropped down to 1%, even going to 0% for some months. Presented with the data, the medical community completely rejected Semmelweis’ ideas. The idea that physicians themselves were responsible for the deaths was completely unacceptable. Further, the idea that diseases could be carried through invisible particles on the hand was rejected for having no basis in reality.

Doctors only had to try washing hands in chlorine for a month to see the effects for themselves, but the idea was considered so loony that nobody bothered with it. Semmelweis went mad trying to convince others and was forcefully admitted to a mental asylum where he died 14 days later. It was only 20 years after his death that the germ theory explained his observations. This was our status, when we were in Want stage.

Now nobody is suffering from this syndrome. And we can happily say “long live Semmelweis syndrome”. Moving ourselves in CAN stage, and also as a prosumers, with our power of Systems thinking, we share resources, information effectively. Hope this explains you much better the concept, and once after CAN, we SHOULD, this complies with security, assurability, integrity, availability, etc. and FEAR mainly complies with hacking and other flaws in “e” environment. I don’t want to spend much of my time with the last 2 stages, for a simple reason is that they are beyond the scope. The 3rd stage is much more important. This is the stage of information availability to others.

Let’s Learn and Share! Sharing will not make us poor, it makes u only RICH!!!


Viji said…
nice comparative study; good flow.. asusual you rock :)
Me and We said…
Thanks a lot viji....U r comments are SPL....

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