Shamans in California

I chose to read the article from the NY Times, “A Doctor for Disease, a Shaman for the Soul”. This article was about a city in California called Mercred where there is a large population of Hmong people. The Hmong people believe in spiritual beliefs guiding them through illness through various ceremonies; they believe that souls are capable of wandering or being captured by evil which causes these illnesses they experience.  To treat illness the Hmong people have specialized healers called Shaman and now with new policies in place such as the Hmong Shaman Policy at Mercred Hospital, specifically appointed/trained Shamans can now perform up to nine ceremonies on the Hmong people during their hospital stay. These ceremonies include many different chants and “soul calling”. Some of the ceremonies however, which include the sacrifice of live animals cannot be performed in the hospital due to complications with infectious control. By training the Shamans Western Medicine there is more trust developing between Hmong people and Western doctors and medicine. Allowing ceremonies to be perfomed in hospitals and with this building of trust it speeds up the medical intervention process which is one of the ultimate goals of the program. Unlike Western Medicine where going to the hosptial requires medical insurance or comes with a hefty bill the Hmong Shamans do not accept any insurance or any form of payment. Mercred is not the only hospital beginning to consider a patients cultural beliefs and values when it comes to deciding on medical treatment, a recent survery in the United States showed an increasing number of hospitals embracing different cultural beliefs. This is very important to the medicine because social support and beliefs have a tremendous effect on a patients ability to recover after an illness as verfied with many placebo studies. I think that this collaboration with beliefs and medicine is a perfect combination for a successful recovery!

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