I have chosen to summarize the article, “A Doctor for Disease, a Shaman for the soul.”
The article is covering a form of alternative medicine practiced in Hmong
culture. At Mercy Medical Center in Mercy, CA, Hmong Shamans are being
incorporated into the care of Hmong patients. A training program has also been
implemented to try and decrease the fear and negativity garnered towards western
medicine that is common among Hmong people. This fear and negativity originated
or was created as a result of the Vietnam War. Shamans, also known as healers, have a very high social status within Hmong culture. This is due to traditional Hmong people’s tendency to rely on spiritual beliefs to get them through illnesses. The social status among U.S. medical doctors is still a work in progress as many doctors are not sure of the effectiveness of Hmong medical and spiritual practices. Another interesting
and concerning aspect of the article discusses the unfortunate and unnecessary
outcomes of the inability to communicate between Hmong people and U.S.
healthcare providers. This problem is being alleviated with cultural training
Hmong Shamans interact with their patients directly and spiritually. Techniques and
apparatuses used to treat patients, according to this article included: spiritual
ceremonies, gongs, finger bells, and boisterous spiritual accelerators. Also, a
man with diabetes and hypertension had his spirit treated by looping a coiled
thread around his wrist. This was said to improve the healing process of a
runaway soul. Shamans operate within the Folk Sector, in terms of U.S.
practice. They are being incorporated into the professional sector and one
could also argue they are a part of the popular sector. Shamans deliver healthcare traditionally at patient’s homes but have moved into hospitals. Shamans believe that the origin of illness and disease is directly related to the soul. They treat the soul and
spirit in an effort to allow the body to combat the diseases more effectively. With
the widespread incorporation of alternative medicine through the U.S. on the
rise, Hmong Shamans and the like will continue to gain higher levels of
acceptance and respect among the American medical community.