Notion of “schema,” custom essay.


Using the notion of “schema,” describe why Dr. Ignatz Semmelweis had such a difficult time

(1) discovering the reason why many patients were dying from childbed fever and then

(2) convincing his peer physicians what should be done? … attach outside documented resources, articles, and videos with links that advance knowledge.

Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis faced significant challenges in discovering the reason for the high mortality rate from childbed fever and convincing his peer physicians to implement the necessary changes. These challenges can be understood through the concept of “schema,” which refers to pre-existing mental frameworks or cognitive structures that influence how people perceive and process information.

  1. Discovering the Cause of Childbed Fever:

    • Ingrained Medical Beliefs: During Semmelweis’s time in the mid-19th century, the prevailing medical schema among physicians was the miasma theory, which suggested that diseases were caused by bad odors or “miasmas” in the air. This schema led many doctors to dismiss the idea that invisible particles (germs) could cause illness. Semmelweis’s theory that childbed fever was caused by the transfer of infectious material from cadavers to pregnant women contradicted this established belief.

    • Cognitive Dissonance: Semmelweis’s findings challenged the existing beliefs of his colleagues, creating cognitive dissonance. When presented with evidence that contradicted their schema, many doctors resisted accepting it because doing so would require them to admit they had been contributing to patient deaths through improper hygiene practices. This resistance hindered Semmelweis’s efforts to gain acceptance for his ideas.

    • Lack of Evidence: Semmelweis’s understanding of germ theory was ahead of its time, and the technology to directly observe germs did not exist then. Without concrete evidence of germs, his peers found it difficult to accept his theory, as their schema relied on visible and tangible explanations for disease.

  2. Convincing His Peers:

    • Professional Hierarchy: The medical profession in the 19th century had a strict hierarchy, with senior doctors and professors holding significant authority. Semmelweis, as a relatively junior physician, faced resistance from those in higher positions. His efforts to convince his peers were hindered by the entrenched hierarchical schema that favored the opinions of established figures.

    • Social Norms and Groupthink: Semmelweis’s colleagues were part of a medical community with deeply ingrained norms and practices. Groupthink, a phenomenon where individuals conform to group consensus even when it may be incorrect, played a role in resisting Semmelweis’s ideas. The schema within the medical community at the time favored conformity rather than challenging established practices.

    • Communication Challenges: Semmelweis faced difficulties in effectively communicating his findings. Language barriers, as he was working in Vienna where multiple languages were spoken, and his own communication style, which could be abrasive and confrontational, further alienated his peers.

To advance your knowledge on this topic, you can refer to the following resources:

  1. Article: “Ignaz Semmelweis and the Birth of Infection Control” by Barry Farr. This article provides an overview of Semmelweis’s work and the challenges he faced. Read here

  2. Video: “The Doctor Who Championed Hand-Washing And Briefly Saved Lives” – A TED-Ed video that offers an engaging overview of Semmelweis’s contributions. Watch here

  3. Book: “The Doctor’s Plague: Germs, Childbed Fever, and the Strange Story of Ignac Semmelweis” by Sherwin B. Nuland. This book delves into Semmelweis’s life and the challenges he faced in more detail.

These resources can provide a deeper understanding of the challenges Semmelweis encountered in discovering the cause of childbed fever and advocating for changes in medical practices.

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