Welcoming Shamans

This week I chose to analyze the slideshow posted called Welcoming Shamans. I really didn’t know exactly what a shaman was before looking through this link. My first thought about what a shaman was is someone who is from the Asia area of the world. I had a notion that they were someone who deals with traditional medicine but I did not know exactly how. After reading thought the slides I have a much better idea of what a shaman does and who they are. Shamans are healers who practice traditional medicine. They perform ceremonies that aim to cleanse the spirits and souls. The healers are people who are comparable to clergy in the clinical setting of medicine. They have the same status as clergy and are able to interact with patients at their request. Typically clergy are hired in the clinical setting as a way for patients to gain self-renewal. They have a unique cultural or sub-cultural context with which they carry themselves because they are not necessarily a religious person they are spiritual but are able to converse with patients about religious things if the patient pleases which is what a shaman seems to do as well. The shamans don’t seem to have a very high social status in our American culture but they do in the countries where this type of medicine is the most prominent and easy to access. Recently in California a hospital allowed shamans the same status as the clergy. Healthcare in this system is more of a way to clear the mind and put stresses at ease. The body and symptoms are understood in a sense of ridding the body of the bad and then the body can be flooded with the good. Shamans use the burning of paper or herbs, the sound of music, and sacrifice to ward off bad energy.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Anya Odabasic says:

    Shamans are completely opposite of every aspect of healthcare in the U.S. Biomedical doctors focus on medicines to alter chemicals and hormones in the body while shamans are using ceremonies and herbs to ward of spirits to give health. Biomedical doctors are focused on how the medicines affect the bodies while shamans have a more traditional holistic approach.

    Also, shamans do not follow traditional healthcare standards. As shown in the slide show, procedures can be done in the home with a pig carcass in the middle of the floor while the shaman dances on the table. I’m pretty sure a biomedical doctor would want to get the shaman medical help himself if he witnessed this!

    I would say that shamans are credible healers but I cannot say for certain how effective they are. Although I would love to believe that special herb smells and burning of special papers wards off bad spirits, I just have a hard time believing that sort of traditional folk medicine. The only way I could see this type of healing being effective is maybe through a placeo effect? I believe in the power of positivity and someone who believes in shamans may very well feel that the bad spirits were sworn off and can now continue life as normal. Psychological aspects of health play a large role in the biological aspects of health, each feeding off of one another.

  2. sarah rousakis says:

    I enjoyed reading your post and agreed with your discussion about the Shamans. The Shamans are traditional healers who focus on spiritual healing through cleansing and replenishing the mind, body and soul. I thought that the ritual described in this article in which a pig carcass was offered to ward off bad spirits was extreme and somewhat insensitive. Although I respect the beliefs and traditions of the shamans and those who follow them, I am hesitant to believe in the effectiveness of such ceremonies. I am more open to the idea of the” placebo effect” being at work here to some extent. There does not seem to be a lot of evidence of these rituals actually healing people, although if a patient does become better after receiving a ritual, they are more inclined to believe that it was the spiritual healing rather than western medicine. The work of the shamans is almost completely opposite in regards to biomedical doctors. The shamans are more focused on healing someone mentally, emotionally and physically, while doctors working in the hospital are usually solely focused on treating the disease or illness without being as concerned with the actual patient and how they are coping with a disease or illness. I do have much respect for the genuine concern and empathy that the Shaman’s have for their patients and believe that it is a quality that doctors should work to achieve as well in their practice.

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