Hmong Shamans in California

I chose to reflect the Hmong shamans in California. Shamans are cultural figures who who assist in the healing process of patients through magic, focusing mainly on the soul. The article, “A Doctor for Disease, a Shaman for the Soul” helped me to learn a lot about what a shaman is, as well as look at things from a perspective that I am not used to. These healers have multiple techniques, and their main responsibility is to refocus the soul. The Hmong people believe that the soul can wander or be captured by malevolent spirits, resulting in illness. Shamans hold ceremonies to protect the soul and better protect from illness. These ceremonies include “soul calling” chants, as well as other practices to bring back the soul that has wandered. In Hmong culture, surgery, anesthesia and other practices that are not the norm as they are in our culture. Instead, belief plays a large role in overcoming illness in Hmong culture. A particular part of the article that I found interesting told of a current doctor who grew up with two distinguished shamans as parents. She said that although she is a doctor, she would want a shaman present if she were to have a hospital visit herself. This part stood out to me, and made me realize how truly important it is to take an ethnomedical approach when dealing with illness. The article discusses the implementation of the Hmong shaman policy in the Mercy Medical Center in Merced, California. This hospital is the country’s first to do such a thing. As I said before, beliefs play a major role in getting these people through illnesses, so it is very beneficial for them. One purpose of the program is to rid the Hmong people of the fear of Western medicine.  The article states that the this has helped to build trust “both ways,” and it has proven to help in healing in that area highly populated by Hmong people. I believe that the the policy is a great approach, and can be applied to other cultures as well.

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  1. Breanna Block says:

    I believe that people who believe strongly in Shaman view them the same way we believe doctors. I believe that is why they fear seeing western doctors. I know I would be a little skeptical if I only had access to a Shaman and they told me things that contradicted all that I knew about western medicine. Shaman deliver healthcare a little bit differently, they often come to the patient, whereas in the U.S. patients always come to their doctor. Shaman focus on the soul, which is something that western doctors often do not even consider. Before this week, I would have said that Shaman are not believable and that there probably was no real proof that they have helped people. However after reading the articles and watching the films I have really changed my mind. I am not sure if it is the Shaman that is doing the work, or if it is the Shaman that gets the person to believe in a answer to their problems, but I think there must be some sort of correlation between a Shaman and the miracles they seem to cause. They do not have that much credibility, but they certainly do provoke faith in their patients or they would not still be as popular as they are in those cultures.

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