Manual Seventh Taboo

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This is the third in a series of posts on The Archetypes of Human Work , which are based on the interactions or relationships between The Varieties of Human Work.

Chinese Ghost Month – The Taboos You Must Know

For an introduction, see here. Each archetype includes a number of examples currently healthcare-related. More examples will be added over time. Composition: work-as-done but not as-disclosed, nor usually as-prescribed, nor usually as-imagined. It is often not in accordance with official policy, procedures, etc, or there is no relevant policy, procedures, or if it is described in procedures, others would find the activity unacceptable.

As such, the activity is often not widely known outside of specific groups.

The main defining feature is that it is not openly discussed. The Taboo archetype represents activity governed by social norms, but which is kept hidden, deliberately not disclosed outside of a defined group, usually for reasons associated with fear. The activity is often informal and not prescribed, but in some cases some prescription may exist but not be widely known. The activity will usually not be known outside of specific groups, though there may well be suspicion among others outside of these groups, though even this is still not widely disclosed.

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The distinguishing feature of Taboo is that disclosure of the activity is deliberately restricted, more so than will usually be the case with The Messy Reality , which is quite ordinary. Those familiar with archetype are those who do the work, and those who sanction the practices explicitly or implicitly , but it may concern work in any part of an organisation, from front-line to senior management.

The Taboo archetype may exist in partnership with P. At the heart of Taboo is one or more conflicts between goals, needs, or values, concerning, cost, financial gain, efficiency, productivity, capacity, safety, security, satisfaction, comfort, sustainability, power, etc. These conflicts may exist within and between groups. Hence, disclosure could be damaging to the goals, needs or values of the in-group. Taboo may simply concern basic human needs, such as the need for rest or sleep, which are not catered for in the design or prescription of work. It is not unusual for sleep to be forbidden on nightshifts, and yet arrangements are made among staff to ensure that they get some sleep.

In some cases, the practices might involve personal gain e. Taboo may also concern group-level needs e. For instance, unhealthy and unsafe levels of overtime may offer financial benefits to individuals pay and organisations fewer staff required , and thus may be form part of a Taboo archetype for both staff and management. In many instances, there will be an efficiency-thoroughness trade-off i. Increases in demand and pressure , in an environment of inadequate resources, will tend to result in an emphasis on efficiency and short term goals, which will tend to breed practices which cannot be widely disclosed.

The Taboo archetype can, however, in conjunction with P. This is a complex issue that is difficult to understand without knowledge of the work. Unsustainable, unethical or unacceptably risky practices can remain hidden, leading to ever wider gaps between work-as-imagined and work-as-done and potentially a drift into failure.

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In reality, extremely fatiguing duty combinations can still be legally rostered. For 2-pilot long haul night flights it is not uncommon for pilots to lose 2-nights of sleep in 3 days. In the context of work-as-imagined, prescribed and done, the gap between them is very wide yet this appears to be accepted by all and regarded as necessary to satisfy different priorities.

The nurse who shared the story related that often they had to use ointments for instance, while caring for burn patients that frequently got on the outside of the ointment container through normal handling. These ointments inevitably got on the bar code label making the medication impossible to scan. The nurse then faced several options. Second, they could administer the medication and not document it at all. Third, they could simply skip administration and avoid any issue. Because of the administrative policy of the pharmacy, the nurse in question shared that she would on occasion skip medication administration or administer without documentation rather than risk punishment for a system-induced problem.

When working as a paediatric intensive care nurse we were often so busy that we had to figure out how we could do things in order to get through the shift with everything done. For example, in order to ensure the children received their medications on time we carried out a practice which was known to be poor. The nurse at the bedside would do the complicated calculations the amount for the weight, concentration of the medication and route of administration.

This was not good practice, it was definitely not prescribed or imagined by the senior management and not discussed because everyone knew it was poor practice. As a result of this a number of errors could and did happen such as patients receiving the wrong dose often as a result of a calculation error or receiving the right drug but via the wrong route because of a mix up of the syringes.

Organ preservation solutions are administered by registered practitioners during organ donation. These solutions are administered following death of the donor but are not formally prescribed by a doctor. Under any other circumstance, registered practitioners would not administer any fluids or drugs without a clear written prescription. Organ donation appears to be the only exception. This is something that is not common knowledge outside the organ retrieval community. The main issue is that organ retrieval is a service commissioned by NHSBT, not directly provided by them so it is up to providers to enforce specific practices on the ground.

However, this could create risks to individual practitioners if they were to administer organ preservation solutions incorrectly without prescription that resulted in harm to organs. The case of Dr Raj Mattu provides an example of Taboo. I worked as a Neurology SpR at the Walsgrave between January-December and it was the most stressful period of my career.

Without proper understanding of the underlying biological basis, menstruation can look quite threatening. It seems to be a recurrent bleeding, every twenty-eight days, without any apparent wound or injury. Because the cycle mirrors that of the moon, the process appears supernatural.

11 Taboos in Chinese Culture

Further confusing is the fact that menstruation occurs exclusively in females, disappears during pregnancy, and stops at middle age Montgomery, Menstrual huts and other taboos were common among primitive cultures in the past. The following are examples of primitive practices still in place today. The Huaulu of Indonesia, for instance, have a menstrual hut on the edge of village. While Huaulu women must live in these huts during menstruation, they are not confined to them — they can wander through the forest, if they stay away from hunting trails.

However, they must refrain from eating game, and they must bathe at special fountains forbidden to men. These rituals are performed to spare the men from harm Hoskins, The Dogon a group of people living in the central plateau region of Mali, south of the Niger bend near the city of Bandiagara in the Mopti region believe that women must stay in a special hut during the course of their menstrual period. During menstruation, Dogon women get no relief from their usual agricultural labor and spend most of their days working in the fields. However, village streets and family compounds are off-limits.

Furthermore, sexual intercourse and cooking for a husband are strictly forbidden Strassmann, In the cultures of the Highlands of Papua New Guinea i. The Enga, Kaulong, and Sengseng cultures of New Guinea believe that sexual intercourse with a menstruating woman will drain and weaken a man Montgomery, The Jewish code of law, Halakha , details strict rules governing every aspect of the daily lives of Jews, including their sexual lives. Jewish law expressly forbids literally any physical contact between males and females during the days of menstruation and for a week thereafter Eider, ; Keshet-Orr, This includes passing objects between each other, sharing a bed most couples have two separate beds, which can be pulled apart during Niddah , sitting together on the same cushion of a couch, eating directly from the wife's leftovers, smelling her perfume, gazing upon her clothing whether or not it has been worn , or listening to her sing Steinberg, According to stipulated ritual, an Orthodox Jewish wife is responsible for immersing in the Mikvah , the ritual bath, following these 2 weeks.

All of the verses explicitly state that one may not have intercourse with the forbidden. Although the laws of family purity are only required with one's own wife, any form of physical contact with pleasurable intent including holding hands, hugging, and kissing is prohibited with any menstrual woman who has not yet immersed in the Mikvah Eider, Since brides will immerse in the Mikvah for the first time before their weddings, all unmarried women are presumed to be in a state of Niddah Eider, Therefore, every woman who has had her first period is not allowed to be touched, according to Jewish law.

Additional restrictions are put on the married woman while she is a Niddah. These taboos include playing games and sports together e. Physical danger and disgust were used as mechanisms to keep compliance to these laws among the Jews in the Middle Ages Steinberg, When a woman was menstruating, she was seen as a physical and spiritual danger to all men.

Nahmanides states that her breath is harmful, and her gaze is detrimental. A woman was instructed not to walk between two men, because, if she did so at the end of her period, she would cause strife between them, and if she passed between them at the beginning of her period, she would cause one of them to die. Additionally, a woman is instructed to be careful when cutting her toenails during her menses, for fear that her toenail clippings would spread infection to anyone who stepped on them Steinberg, Contemporary sources, on the other hand, view menstruation and the laws surrounding it as a blessing.


It is thought that following these laws will cause the husband to view his wife as an equal human being, as opposed to a sexual object Steinberg, Growing up in a U. Orthodox Jewish community is a unique experience. For as long as I can remember, I was taught that girls above the age of twelve i.

Only once engaged was I taught the strict rules that govern the sexual lives of observant Jews. Jewish observance includes observance of the laws of family purity, as detailed above.

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It was certainly an eye-opening experience to learn about these rules such as restrictions on passing objects between each other, eating directly from one's wife's leftovers, smelling her perfume, etc. Only at the end of the Niddah period, after the ritual bath, are spouses permitted to touch each other, once again.

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Learning about these regulations has led to my interest and desire to conduct research in this area. Most Christian denominations do not follow any specific rituals or regulations related to menstruation. However, Western civilization, predominantly Christian, has a history of menstrual taboos. In early Western cultures, the menstruating woman was believed to be dangerous, and social restrictions were placed upon her. In fact, the British Medical Journal, in , claimed that a menstruating woman would cause bacon to putrefy Whelan, The history of the menstrual taboo has been a major reason in the decision to keep women from positions of authority in Christianity Phipps, ; Ruether, Additionally, there are some Christian denominations, including many authorities of the Orthodox Church, who will not allow women to receive communion during their menstrual period Barnes, n.

Menstruation taboos are also responsible for the belief of many Catholics that a woman should not have intercourse during her monthly period Phipps, Catholic canon law refuses to allow women or girls to be in any semi-sacerdotal roles, such as altar server Ruether, Russian Orthodox Christians believe in menstrual taboos as well. Menstruating women must live secluded in a little hut during this time.

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  4. They do not attend church services, cannot have any contact with men, and may not touch raw or fresh food. Menstruating women are also thought to offend and repel fish and game. The air surrounding menstruating women is believed to be especially polluting to young hunters; if a hunter gets close enough to a women to touch, then all animals will be able to see him and he won't be able to hunt them.

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    A menstruating woman's gaze is even thought to affect the weather negatively Morrow, While Western Christian denominations are less extreme, some relic of negative attitudes toward menstruating women remain.