The Horse Boy

The film that I found the most interesting is the one titled “The Horse Boy.” This movie is about a couple with a son named Rowan who suffers from autism. At the beginning of the film, a young couple from India is introduced and it is shown how they end up getting married and eventually have a child named Rowan. After a few years of irregular behavior, such as extreme temper tantrums and not being able to socialize with others properly, the couple decided to bring Rowan to a doctor, where he was then diagnosed with autism. While dealing with his son’s condition, Rowan’s father suddenly got the idea to allow the boy to be exposed to horses. What Rowan’s father didn’t expect was that Rowan would have an amazing connection with these animals that left the boy at peace and eased his temper tantrums.

 

After losing hope in the treatment Rowan was already receiving, the couple decided to bring their son to Mongolia, where horseback riding originated. They hoped that bringing Rowan here would have a positive effect on his condition by immersing him in a completely different culture that had unusual medical rituals as compared to those the family was already accustomed to. In Mongolia, the family met up with a group of Shamans that hoped to help Rowan with his autism. The shamans came to the conclusion that the reason Rowan suffered from autism was because he was being tormented by the spirit of his grandmother that suffered from manic depression while she was alive. The shamans ended up performing rituals for Rowan such as chanting, praying, whipping, washing, and beating on drums in order to get rid of the demon and to the parent’s surprise, they began seeing improvements in their son’s behavior. For weeks, the improvements continued and while the family knew Rowan had not been cured of his autism, they did feel as though his improvements had made their quality of life much better.

 

I believe that the sector this healthcare operates in is the folk sector. Through this sector, the symptoms that a person is experiencing is seen in a more spiritual light. Due to this, the healers associated with this sector, such as the shaman in the above example, try to heal the body through spiritual means such as praying and chanting. They try to heal the body without the use of medicines and they address the problem as a whole rather than addressing each symptom individually.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Taylor Cheney says:

    In comparison to regular medical doctors, the shamans base their methods of healing on a more spiritual rather than medical level. Medical doctors in the United States normally use means of procedures, medical testing, and treatments to help optimally heal their patients while the shamans in Mongolia in the Horse Boy video attempted to heal the autism in Rowan through rituals such as whipping, chanting, beating on drums, and other spiritual treatments. Healthcare in the United States is for the most part, efficient as well as personal. Doctors try to comfort as well as provide great care in attempt to heal diseases/illnesses. To me, shamans seem credible in different ways. Although they may make a patient feel better emotionally, they are not technically “healing” the patient’s disease like a doctor does. The shamans are not trained as professionals to cure patients. Shamans are, however, effective in the sense that they may make a person’s symptoms lessen such as in the story of Rowan and his autism. The shamans did not treat his autism medically, but they made his symptoms less severe. I like how you described the shamans as attempting to heal the body as a whole without the use of medicines. Although they are not trained medical doctors like in the United States, they still use spiritual means to help try to heal a person.

  2. Devin Jay-Garfein says:

    Jenny, I found that film interesting too. I have heard about doing treatment with animals and that it had positive effects. I believe the reason why it worked in the film has multiple elements. First animals can be calming and relaxing. Some people talk about the unconditional love they have received from an animal. It is comforting to be around animals for many people, think about all the pets in the world.
    Another element is the environment that the horses and shaman were in, in comparison to the doctors. Horses and Shaman can be outside in nature which could be more comforting. Doctors are in hospitals, many children don’t like that. Many people are uncomfortable in hospitals and they are not the most child-friendly environment.

    When the doctors in the film were using biomedicine it didn’t help Rowan. I believe that happened because Rowan felt uncomfortable and misunderstood. The doctors were looking at him and finding everything that was considered “wrong.” They look into how the boy felt about it. Rowan could have blamed himself or felt hopeless. Neither of those emotions are beneficial to have during a treatment process.

    I think the horses and shaman made him feel more comfortable and accepted. The Shaman helped him because they addressed him as a whole person and not just the “problems.” By not using medicine and instead chanting and praying it lowered his symptoms and made his quality of life better. That treatment was very effective. I think the folk approach is very ethical. Treatment is about making a sick patient better, which includes mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. Shamans work with all three. Biomedicine is mainly concerned with the body.

  3. Ashley Lathrop says:

    I loved this film. I found it to be fascinating and loved seeing Rowan thrive in a different atmosphere. In our society, biomedical medicine would classify this child as autistic and suggest a number of therapies, both physical and mental along with support for the parents. I do think there are therapeutic activities such as horseback riding to help with certain diseases and illnesses (there is one in Lansing called Beekman Therapeutic Riding Center). However, these centers are not mainstream and not many people know about them. Medicine here in the USA is a lot different. Alternative medicine like Rowan received is less used here because of the influx of medications pushed to treat the issues and not the condition. Shamans use chanting and praying to heal the body whereas doctors (not all of them but just using this for arguments sake) use medications and maybe additional or alternative medicine like physical therapy. I think healers like Shamans in Mongolia are absolutely credible. Treatment is only credible if it works. Who’s to say that these practices are any less credible than medications? I believe that if the person who is being treated believes in the treatment and feels that it works, than that’s all that really matters. To me, I’d rather have something that will cure my ailments and improve the health of my body, my mind and spirit

  4. Krystn Hartner says:

    This film was excellent and I enjoyed watching it and seeing Rowan have positive interactions with the horses. Animals are used all the time as an emotional support for some people, so using horses to help Rowan with autism seems like a good approach to at least make him feel more comfortable. Being in nature and experiencing the world outside of the hospital can help take patients minds off the disease/illness they have and let them enjoy life outside. From a biomedical approach, doctors do try and make you comfortable and help with the emotional state. However, I do believe their main goal is to treat the disease with surgeries, medicine, etc. In the film, it showed that the doctors did not help Rowan as much and that they were focused on what was wrong and curable than his emotions. Doctors cure but so do shamans as stated in the film. Shamans do not fully treat the disease at hand but they do help a good majority with the emotions and anxiety. For Rowan, the shamans and horses helped him feel more comfortable and give him a good environment to have treatment in. Both doctors and shamans help treat these patients, but with different approaches.

  5. Krystn Hartner says:

    This film was excellent and I enjoyed watching it and seeing Rowan have positive interactions with the horses. Animals are used all the time as an emotional support for some people, so using horses to help Rowan with autism seems like a good approach to at least make him feel more comfortable. Being in nature and experiencing the world outside of the hospital can help take patients minds off the disease/illness they have and let them enjoy life outside. From a biomedical approach, doctors do try and make you comfortable and help with the emotional state. However, I do believe their main goal is to treat the disease with surgeries, medicine, etc. In the film, it showed that the doctors did not help Rowan as much and that they were focused on what was wrong and curable than his emotions. Doctors cure but so do shamans as stated in the film. Shamans do not fully treat the disease at hand but they do help a good majority with the emotions and anxiety. For Rowan, the shamans and horses helped him feel more comfortable and give him a good environment to have treatment in. Both doctors and shamans help treat these patients, but with different approaches.

  6. Lindsey Green says:

    I personally loved this film. Watching Rowan in different environments really got me thinking how the mind works. The horses and horseback riding to Rowan is a kind of therapy I think. Animals of all species are used and proven to benefit health care. Dogs for example are brought into nursing homes, hospitals, etc. to patients and almost immediately are joyful. Horses can be used in therapeutic riding for all kinds of disabilities and ailments. In the U.S. Shamans remind me of meditation or a type of yoga. It’s relaxing, soulful, and spiritual. Shamans take a spiritual rout in treating their patients by bringing in sprits to take out the bad that has been brought upon an individual. On a biological note, doctors are meant to treat and care for patients. In the film Shamans do the same. I believe the Shamans in Mongolia are absolutely credible. They might not fully cure with medicines and prescriptions but with spirits and remedies. I think it depends on your belief system if you are willing to let either a doctor or a Shaman cure you. Both are credible and successful in their own way, but like I said, it is all about the belief system.

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