Shamans in California

The article I chose was called “A Doctor for Disease, a Shaman for the Soul.” It tells how shamans are now a part of the medical system at Mercy Medical Center. They are allowed to have unrestricted access just like the other physicians, and are allowed to perform some of their healing processes. This hospital treats many Hmong patients who have migrated to Southern California and believe that when someone is ill, their soul has left their body and that the shaman is the only person who can bring their soul back. This is why they are said to treat the soul while physicians treat disease.

The healers, as stated before, are called shamans and they help with the loss of souls. They have many healing techniques including putting swords by the door, using trance, and string as symbolic of a soul catcher however there are some rituals that are not allowed in the hospital such as burning of paper, gongs, and paper bells. Some shamans will even accept chickens as payment, which I thought was pretty interesting. The shamans are respected by their patients, and they also respect their patients. The shamans are only called in if the patient wants them to help so if someone requests one they already believe they can help.

In this system, healthcare is mostly delivered by shamans but many people still go to the hospital. Since there are now shamans in the hospital it makes the Hmong feel more comfortable with the hospital setting and puts them a little more at ease with Western medicine. Most shamans do work outside of the hospital, because many healing techniques are not allowed inside. Sickness is seen as soul loss, because the Hmong believe that the soul is capable of leaving the body. The symptoms are all seen a result of soul loss. Like in the book, “The Spirit Catches you and you Fall Down,” every time the child had a seizure, the parents would say it was a result of her soul loss when her sister slammed the door.

Leave a Reply