A Doctor for Disease, a Shaman for the Soul

I chose to read the article, “A Doctor for Disease, a Shaman for the Soul.” The article discusses a changing relationship between Western medicine and hospitals and the Hmong people and their traditions, specifically in Mercy Medical Center, located in Merced, California. Taking patient’s beliefs and culture while treating them is something that is becoming more common in order to help heal the patient faster and to make them happy. Hmong people deeply belief in spirits, rituals, and sacrifices. In the past, these type of things were not allowed in the hospital, but time is changing. Traditional healers are now allowed to come into the hospital and help heal the Hmong people. It is shown to greatly improve a person’s health that truly believes in these type of rituals and spiritual summonings.

The spiritual healers that the Hmong people rely on are called shamans. Shamans believe that there is more to healing than medicine. There are nine approved ceremonies that shamans are allowed to perform in the medical center. They have similar access to a clergy member, but do not accept any type of monetary payment. They simply want to help the Hmong belief and uphold their shaman beliefs. The shamans perform 10-15 minute rituals and the use of gongs and bells is also common but has to be approved by the hospital beforehand. Animal sacrifices are also common, but are not allowed in the hospital and must be performed elsewhere. They believe that the soul can wander off, which then causes illness. For Hmong people, certain surgical procedures and treatment to illness’s aren’t considered to be appropriate. This has caused some problems in the past when patients have hesitated to undergo a treatment for a serious illness. The addition of this new policy strengthened the relationship and trust between the medical system and the Hmong people.

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