Morticians and autopsy ppl

I foubd out this dude at work was a part time embalmer at a funeral home. It just seems weird that dude is surrounded by dead bodies daily. It just seems like a really weird profession to get into. I guess somebodies gotta to do it.

Is It Normal?
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  • Watch Caitlin Doughty 'Ask a Mortician' on YouTube. What a character she is. I'm hooked!!! You won't find it so weird after you've watched her for a while.

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    • Thanks for that, the TED talk in Vienna was a very interesting watch.

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    • I just googled her and she looks exactly the way id expect a female mortician to look. I love stereotypes.

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  • We're very insulated from death in the Western world today.

    Two hundred years ago, roughly half of all children in the USA died before they reached the age of five years old. One hundred years ago, vaccines and improved public health measures meant that four children out of five surviving to that age. Families were a lot larger back then, so almost every family lost at least one child, and that meant virtually everyone was very familiar with death from a young age. And quite a few of those who did make it through those hazardous early years would die of some communicable disease, an accident or a trivial injury that turned septic before they reached adulthood.

    These days, it's not unusual for people to be well into their adult years before they ever see a dead person in real life, so it's pretty easy to slip into thinking that dead people just magically disappear.

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    • You're not wrong about that. I guess I'm overly sensitized to it. Another big killer back then was child birth. Mothers often died during birth.

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      • Very true. Up until really not all that long ago, women were expected to keep on regularly producing babies until they died. And even if the actual childbirth went well, in the 19th century it was very common for new mothers to die in agony a few days later of what was called puerperal fever.

        One of the tragic figures of medical history is a doctor with a name that sounds kinda comical: Ignaz Semmelweis. He worked in obstetric clinics in Vienna in the mid 1800s, and he noticed that the rates of puerperal fever were much lower on wards where midwives delivered babies compared to wards where (exclusively male) doctors were in charge of births. Then he noticed that the death rate of postpartum mothers was drastically higher in a teaching hospital where doctors dissected cadavers to teach students anatomy compared to a clinic where there were no dissections.

        This was before germ theory was widely accepted, but he realised that there must be _something_ that the doctors were transferring from the dissected corpses to the mothers during delivery. So he introduced a rule that everyone attending mothers giving birth had to wash their hands in a solution of calcium hypochlorite before coming into contact with the women. His choice of this chemical was fortuitous because it's a very effective disinfectant (it's still used as that for some applications). Semmelweis just knew that it was very effective at removing the stench of decomposing corpses from hands.

        The result of this was the death rate of mothers in his clinic rapidly fell and actually reached zero at one point. Unfortunately, other doctors refused to accept his findings and rejected his handwashing technique. Part of the reason for that was their outrage at the suggestion that doctors might ever need to wash their hands between patients, because doctors were gentlemen, and no gentleman ever got his hands dirty enough to need washing.

        Semmelweis was fired from the hospital and then subjected to a campaign of harassment and ridicule by the medical establishment in Vienna which became so intolerable that he moved to Budapest. Soon after, he became mentally ill. It's possible that he was suffering tertiary syphilis, which was very common in doctors who examined hundreds or thousands of syphilitic women in free clinics at a time when it was not understood that the disease could be passed on without direct sexual contact. It certainly didn't help his mental state that he knew beyond all doubt that his solution to purpureal fever worked and he had the hard data to back it up, but all the experts mocked and ignored him. He died at the age of 47 in an asylum, apparently after having been beaten by the guards and - ironically enough - his injuries having gone septic.

        About twenty years after his death, Louis Pasteur's experiments were a huge step towards proving that germ theory was the correct explanation for communicable diseases. It was only discovered much later that several relatively innocuous and very common bacteria cause purpureal fever if they come into contact with the raw surface of the uterus where the placenta has detached.

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        • Thats very informative but sad. The greats are often not appreciated until long after they die. This same problem still probably goes on today when there's new research disputing the mainstream opinion.

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  • I walk past a graveyard every day when going to work or just outside, so just being near the dead is not weird to me. Dont forget that every church has a graveyard. But I probably would feel uncomfortable with actually seeing the corpses.

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  • It does seem weird to choose it as a profession, but after 5 years watching Six Feet Under and rewatching it several times it seems kinda normal to me.

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  • It's just off putting looking at the body of the deceased.

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  • One of the hottest women I’ve ever met was an embalmer. I never would’ve picked it.

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