The Lockdown Chronicles 28: Ignaz

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Ignaz is a physician.
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Great works are those which awaken our genius, great men are those who give them form”.

– Louis-Ferdinand Céline, The Life and Works of Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis (1818–1865) (1924)

 

Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis (1818–1865) was a Hungarian-Austrian physician now recognised as an early pioneer of antiseptic procedures; his observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time and his ideas were rejected by the medical community. [Wikipedia entry].

The Semmelweis reflex or “Semmelweis effect” describes the reflex-like tendency to reject new evidence or new knowledge because it contradicts established norms, beliefs, or paradigms. [Wikipedia entry] [Mortell et al 2013]

I learned about the life and work of Semmelweis by reading Semmelweis (Atlas Press, 2008) by the French novelist Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1894 – 1961), who was also a physician (gracias, maestro Antonio Saborit). By 1923, Céline had almost completed his medical degree. His doctoral thesis, The Life and Works of Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis (1818–1865) completed in 1924, is actually considered to be Céline’s first literary work. Ignaz Semmelweis’s contribution to medicine “was immense and, according to Céline, was directly proportional to the misery of his life.” In 1924 Céline took up the post of intern at a Paris maternity hospital.  The first public edition was from 1936. [Wikipedia entry].

Text sources: Semmelweis, I. (1983) Etiology, Concept and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever, translated by Carter, K. Codell, University of Wisconsin Press, via Internet Archive; Mason, R. (5 May 2020) “Boris Johnson boasted of shaking hands on day Sage warned not to”, the Guardian; Pogrebna, G. & Kharlamov, A. (2020) The Impact of Cross-Cultural Differences in Handwashing Patterns on the COVID-19 Outbreak Magnitude. 10.13140/RG.2.2.23764.96649; Gammon, J., & Hunt, J. (2018). The neglected element of hand hygiene – significance of hand drying […]. Journal of Infection Prevention, https://doi.org/10.1177/1757177418815549/.

Source image: Portrait of Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis, Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0. This comic strip CC-BY-NC-SA.

References

Semmelweis, I.P. (1983) Etiology, Concept and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever, translated by Carter, K. Codell, University of Wisconsin Press, via Internet Archive; available at https://archive.org/details/etiologyconcepta0000unse [Accessed 17 May 2020]

Céline, L.F. (2008) [Doctoral thesis, 1927] Semmelweis. Translated by John Harman. London: Atlas Press

Mason, R. (5 May 2020) “Boris Johnson boasted of shaking hands on day Sage warned not to”, the Guardian; available at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/may/05/boris-johnson-boasted-of-shaking-hands-on-day-sage-warned-not-to [Accessed 17 May 2020]

Pogrebna, G. & Kharlamov, A. (2020) The Impact of Cross-Cultural Differences in Handwashing Patterns on the COVID-19 Outbreak Magnitude. 10.13140/RG.2.2.23764.96649 [Accessed 17 May 2020]

Gammon, J., & Hunt, J. (2018). The neglected element of hand hygiene – significance of hand drying […]. Journal of Infection Prevention, https://doi.org/10.1177/1757177418815549  [Accessed 17 May 2020]

Mortell, M., Balkhy, H. H., Tannous, E. B., & Jong, M. T. (2013). Physician ‘defiance’ towards hand hygiene compliance: Is there a theory-practice-ethics gap?. Journal of the Saudi Heart Association, 25(3), 203–208. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsha.2013.04.003 [Accessed 17 May 2020] h

Portrait of Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis [1818 – 1865], Hungarian-Austrian physician. Wellcome Collection. Available via https://wellcomecollection.org/works/jjas5444 [Accessed 17 May 2020]

The Lockdown Chronicles is a series of periodical comic strips made at night (in candlelight!) adapting and reusing openly-licensed or public domain items from online digital collections. Publication and tweetage are scheduled in advance. Historical sources are adapted and updated for the current pandemic; please refer to each strip’s references on each post for further context.  Catch up with the series at https://epriego.blog/tag/the-lockdown-chronicles/.