Shamans in Western Hospitals

My article that I chose from this week’s lesson is the NY Times online article titled “A Doctor for Disease, a Shaman for the Soul”. The article is about the growing adoption of certain cultural healing processes the originate from countries foreign to the western hospitals. In this article it focuses primarily on the Hmong healers from Laos used in Mercy Medical Center in Merced. The practice of cultural healers as well as certified medical professionals is that the holistic approaches of other cultures is found suitable for certain people’s beliefs. The concept of transfusions and anesthetic are considered taboo to the culture. The reason this is a good article to read for this class is that it focuses on the cultural beliefs of what a shaman is for within western hospitals. This accepting of the merging of culture is something that takes a lot of heat, especially with medical professionals. However, the article cites and example of a patient infected with a gangrenous bowel and somehow recovers through the use of these foreign techniques. This occurrence apparently brought support in favor of the use of healers as an acceptable practice within the hospital walls.

The concept of these practices is that the body is analyzed by a shaman of sorts. This process includes efforts to contain the soul/spirit that has wandered within a space. Then what follows are ritualistic efforts to keep evil spirits at bay. Different symptoms require different methods of work for these shaman. The process can include chanting, forms of trinkets and sacrifice, and trances. Although it is a foreign to most people who understand western medicine, it is not something to simply rule out. The article does a good job at portraying this idea and its capability to be accepted with the examples. Although it gets much flak, it should not be immediately rejected.

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