A Doctor for Disease, a Shaman for the Soul

I decided to explore the New York Times article, “A Doctor for Disease, a Shaman for the Soul” this week. The article explores Mercy Medical Center’s (Merced, California) approach to medicine by connecting western medical practices with traditional Hmong shaman healing beliefs. Many of the patients at this hospital are Hmong and believe in the cultural shamans as spiritual healers. The hospital has permitted a few shamans to come and perform ceremonies for those who make request them. The shamans are allowed access to the hospital in a similar manner clergy are for those who follow the Christian faith. The presence of shamans puts the Hmong patients a lot more at ease. This is because many of the medical practices we observe and are used to in our western society are not acceptable within their cultural beliefs. So, by combining tradition with modern medicine, many patients are a lot happier with their treatment. Mercy is not the only hospital that allows for these traditional healers to come and practice in the hospitals. This is a common practice spreading around the country, and I believe it is a great idea.

The shamans for the Hmong people are spiritual healers. They use animal sacrifice, prayer, and negotiation with spirits to perform their duties and ceremonies. The hospital is in a densely Hmong populated neighborhood, so their culture has influence with the health systems there. The shamans are used to treat a patient’s soul while a physician treats their physical body. Through this combination, the physician and his team work as partners with the shamans. In the article, one case included a Hmong leader being treated at the hospital. The leader needed a procedure done, but he wanted a shaman to perform some ceremonies as well. Miraculously, after the shaman performed his ceremonies, the leader had a speedy recovery, prompting the hospital to explore the role of shamans in their facilities.

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  1. Shelby Brewington says:

    After reading this post, I was once again shocked at the fact that a Hmong leader came into the hospital in need of a surgery and instead got a spiritual healing that translated into the Hmong leader receiving a speedy recovery. This idea of a more spiritual healer combine with practical medicine seems to make a lot of sense to me. By easing the mind of the patient they are more receptive of medical treatment. The shamans are much different than medical doctors in that they do not heal physical illnesses through the use of typical medications or treatment. They instead use rituals, animal sacrifice, and prayer to speak to the spirits and inflict a healing of the soul. These type of healers are now becoming more and more accepted among the United States. Many hospitals have started to incorporate shamans coming in to heal patience along with the medical treatment of western doctors. This is much like the way many catholic priests come in to speak with the sick. In my opinion I think these doctors seem very credible, this is because I feel that anything that is able to bring a sick patient the slightest bit of comfort should absolutely be permitted and encouraged. I think many different cultures rely on many different religions and beliefs to get through hard times, and these people being able to connect with their traditions when in the time of need can have nothing but an overall positive effect,

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