“A Doctor for Disease, a Shaman for the Soul”

In this article a new Hmong shaman policy that is operating in Mercy Medical Center in Merced California is discussed. This policy allows Hmong patients to have traditional Hmong shamans come in and preform rituals. The policy was designed to better cater to the spiritual needs of the Hmong people receiving treatment at the hospital. A training program allows the shamans to learn about Western medicine and understand where the doctors are coming from and to better understand the ailments of the patients. The policy and program are promising steps that are strengthening the rocky relationship the Hmong community has often had with the doctors because of their belief system (one that sometimes does not coincide with treatment plans proscribed by doctors).
The healers in this article are the Hmong shamans and the doctors at the hospital. The shamans use traditional healing techniques, such as “soul calling”, the use of gongs and/or finger bells to treat the patient’s spirit that could be in some sort of trouble. Shamans treat the soul and spirit of the patient and use ceremonies and rituals to interact with the soul and spirits. The doctors in the hospital use Western medical techniques to treat their patient’s illness, which can be anything from IV drips to more invasive surgeries. Here doctors interact with the patient directly and try and heal them of their illness.
The shamanistic healing is derived in the Folk Sector and in the Hmong culture and community. The shamanistic healing that is being described in this article is being delivered in a hospital setting and is greatly effecting how patients receive complementary treatments. By this I mean that allowing Hmong patients to receive both treatments by shamans and by doctors their spiritual as well as internal medical needs (as viewed by biomedicine) are being met. The doctors in the hospital operate from the Professional Sector and dominate Western medical society. Again healthcare by doctors is usually in a hospital or medical center setting and symptoms are understood and treated in the dominant biomedical approach to illness and disease.

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  1. Shardae Herriford says:

    The idea of the Shamans was very interesting however compared to biomedical Doctors they still want to same goal. Which is to heal the person from which they are being affected. Although, they really care about the person overall being spiritually, physically, and mentally. It’d not limited to just doing a procedure to healing the patient. Giving the patient help in which they are more hopeful of recovery so that they overcome the mental experience of being sick. In the United States, the Doctors are more so want to experience instant gratification of a person being healed. From actually working in the hospital I see Doctors come in assist the patient let them rest for a couple days and then they are gone. Within minutes there is a mother patient I the same room as it is cleaned. From pervious class material even though we have double the rate of health care we are not even on average living to be at least 85 years old. These healers are really credible I’m sure some of them have went to school to receive official paperwork. Their main focus is the patient feeling comfortable and hopeful to not be affected anymore. I have never experienced this so I can’t really judge if their method is actually better than the biomedical Doctors.

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