The Horse Boy

I chose to reflect on this film, because I found it personally inspiring. This film was all about a little boy named Rowan who had autism. He suffered not only from the regular symptoms of autism but also from other more rare, severe symptoms. Some being excessive tantrums sometimes lasting up to three hours at a time, and social isolation with not being able to facilitate any normal interaction with child his own age. His parents had tried many different methods of trying to cope with these issues, and the only thing that was able to bring Rowan to a relaxed state seemed to be his Horse Betsy. His father explained their interaction to be something he has never seen before. The horse immediately took to Rowan and allowed him to carry out actions that would normal not be tolerated. However Rowans actions outside of being with Betsy were almost unbearable for his parents. So with his fathers suggestion, both parent went to Mongolia to seek a more uncommon spiritual treatment, performed by Shamans.

Shamans are the healers in Mongolia, they are the go to doctors in Mongolia, and many seek no other form of medical attention. They are highly respected individuals. Shamans heal their patience through a series of rituals that include drinking certain substances, chants, and rituals. They interact with their patients in a multitude of ways, sometimes through touch, or by speaking to them, or by also in some cases whipping them, they are always in contact with the spirit of their patient and propose remedies that will heal ones spirit which in return heals the patience illness. For example, in Rowans case the Shamans indicated that Rowans Grandmothers spirit seemed to be attached to him in a negative manner, provoking his irate behaviors. Rowans grandmother had a form of manic depressive mental illness herself, which is why her spirit could be impacting Rowans.

I think that the sector these particular Shamans work under would defiantly have to be the Folk sector because they do work in a wide non-industrialized sector and only use spiritual treatments that mainly form through deep cultural beliefs. Their beliefs are based on cultural, and tradition. instead of the more medical approach, that includes medicines and testing. The Shamans carry out their treatment and understand the body through trying to understand the spiritual state of their patient. They do not focus on simply treating the body, but instead the spiritual health of the patient. Therefore physical symptoms are often treated spiritually.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Jaana Ashtiani says:

    I found your post to be very interesting because I wrote about the Clown Doctors of NYC who were continuously compared to the Shaman healers of other cultures. From your summation of this movie I can see that the Shaman healers perform healing methods that may be seen as more holistic and perhaps somewhat unethical. Unlike standard bio medical western doctors, their methods involve a lot more one on one physical contact, as well as a variety of contact with the spirit of the ill person. While bio medical styles of treatment involve more drug prescriptions and machine testing, Shaman healing seems to be a lot more physical and personal. Shaman healers are also distinguished by their approach

    To judge whether or not he healing methods of the Shaman are credible and/or effective would require further research on my part. From what I already know, their style IS effective, but I believe the credibility depends on the state of mind and culture of the particular person at hand. For example, in lecture we learned that there are different dimensional approaches to dealing with an illness or disease, the folk one in particular dealing with more of the cultural aspects of the issue. Therefore, if a person of a particular culture does not believe in or agree with the methods of another culture such as the Shamans, it may make them skeptical against healing process and thereby make the process less effective. Hence, why I believe its effectiveness depends on other factors and requires more research before an assumption can be made.

  2. Albert Tamayo says:

    Shelby, I chose your post about shamans in Mongolia because they seem to work much different than doctors here in the U.S. It sounds like they do everything within their traditional knowledge to cure people’s ailments by addressing what they believe to be problems with their spirits. I expected to hear about chanting and rituals in your post, but I was surprised that they sometimes use whipping as one of their curing methods. Obviously this is different than here in the U.S. where whipping would not be permitted, although one could argue that doctors sometimes inflict purposeful harm via chemotherapeutics and amputations. The shamans are similar to doctors in the U.S. in that they are respected people in the community and they are the primary resource for improving one’s health. They also use their own remedies to cure illnesses, much like doctors in the past that had to homebrew their own medicines.

    The shamans in Mongolia seem to be effective in the sense that they address the spiritual needs of their patients. Much of the healing process requires that the patient has a desire to get healthy. If someone believes that their healer is effectively addressing their problems, then they are more likely to feel fulfilled and maintain a desire to get better. Although shamans may not address the physical problems with someone’s body, they certainly attempt to improve the spiritual health of the patient, which lends to their legitimacy as healers.

  3. Francesca Rogers says:

    Shelby, I found your post interesting because I did doctor clowns of NYC and they were compared to the Shaman doctors. They were similar in most aspects, but when you talk about Shaman healers in comparison to Westernized doctors I do not see much that is similar. They both believe in healing and making an individual well, but their methods and what they direct their attention towards is what differs. The Shamans are more focused on the spiritual part of the patient whereas Western doctors focus on the physical illness of the patient. They don’t go as far as performing rituals, or whipping patients. Shamans make the healing process personal and try to fix what they think the root of the problem is. Westernized doctors prescribe more medicines and use technology to solve medical issues.
    As for their credibility, it would vary. It depends on what an individual believes in and what they’ve seen to determine if someone is credible. From my perspective, I believe there is a biological or ecological aspect behind every health condition. I would not look to fix suffering spirits if I fell ill, but if I happened to go to a Shaman and they made me healthy by their methods then I may reconsider how legitimate they are. In perspective of other people, I do believe they are credible. Their practices have been around for a long time and seem to work for different people. Also, if a patient thinks the Shaman healers are effective, then they will be in the mindset of already becoming healthy.

  4. Krystn Hartner says:

    Shelby, I found your post about the film very interesting and it reminded me of the shamans in the article that I read about the CCU in New York. These shamans would not necessarily cure the disease with surgeries, medicine, etc. but they would help with the emotional support and the anxiety that came with the patients during their treatments. What the shamans did with Rowan helped to contribute to spiritual aspects of the patient’s health and help Rowan feel better. Having Rowan ride with the horses made him feel more comfortable and get him out of the environment of the hospital. I have heard before of cats and dogs being used as emotional support, but I have never heard of horses. Seeing how it helped with Rowan I think that more hospitals/centers should be made to have animals help the patients. I haven’t personally seen any centers like this, but having these around the country could help with the emotions of patients. Doctors take the medical approach and not so much the emotional support. They do try and help with making them more comfortable, but there sole purpose is to actually treat this disease. Both of them are credible as healers, but the approaches are widely varied. I would go to both of them to get the best treatment possible.

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