W3 Reflection: A Doctor for Disease, a Shaman for the Soul

I chose the article “A doctor for disease, a Shaman for the soul”, because I’ve seen an episode of Grey’s Anatomy where they actually brought up the topic of having a Shaman perform on a patient before an operation. This article talked about Hmongs rely on their spiritual beliefs to get them through illnesses, including ceremonies such as “soul calling” and chanting in a soft voice.  Hospitals are now considering bringing in shamans to the principles of Western medicine due to different patient’s cultural beliefs and religion. Certified Shaman are now allowed to work with the patient’s soul in hospitals/ clinics. I believe that Shamans are considered highly respected figures in Hmong culture and they are the healers of the Hmong community. Hmong believe that spirits are seen in the spiritual body and connects to the supernatural world. Therefore, shaman’s goal is to free or protect the souls of patients who are ill. Besides shamans, hospitals are now trying to embrace cultural beliefs by adding different variety of traditional and authentic food to the menus for cultural patients. In Mercy Medical Center, 89 shamans were able to have the opportunity to learned about the Western-style medicine. They visited operating rooms, peered through microscopes, and also examined heart cells. Ceremonies performed by shamans usually last for 10 minutes to 15 minutes, and is usually dealt with animals. However, not many hospitals allow ceremonies involving animals. One tremendous example was when a major Hmong clan leader was hospitalized here with a gangrenous bowel, a shaman placed a long sword at the door to ward off evil spirits. After the ceremony was done, the man miraculously recovered, allowing people to believe that both social support and beliefs can affect a patient’s ability to recover from illness. By collaborating health professionals and cultural healers, the misunderstanding between the medical establishment and the Hmong culture could be resolved. Also, health institutes can use this opportunity to create new treatments in medicine or new methods to heal patients.


3 thoughts on “W3 Reflection: A Doctor for Disease, a Shaman for the Soul

  1. Hi Michelle, I really enjoyed reading your post on the “A Doctor for Disease a Shaman for the Soul” article. When reading your post I noticed that there is a quite a big difference between biomedical doctors in the U.S. and the shamans found in the Hmong people. Biomedical doctors in the western culture have a duty to help people with illnesses and disease. They help them heal their body and focus on their physical pain as well as mental. There is really no focus, however, on the spiritual healing of patients when it comes to biomedical doctors. The shamans among the Hmong people on the other hand, really focus on spiritual healing. As you mentioned their job is to free and heal the souls of people with illness and disease. I found it especially interesting that the article you talked about discussed how the Mercy Medical Center had 89 shamans participate in a great learning experience and are now incorporated into medical treatment. You mentioned that certified shamans are now involved in medical practices and it seems that their spiritual help may actually work. I really enjoyed reading about the story you mentioned about the shaman that placed the sword at the door to keep evil spirits away and it resulted in the patient miraculously recovering from their condition. That was really amazing to read about and I think it helps to illustrate the difference between the biomedical doctors of today and the shamans.

  2. Hello Michelle,
    I was really interested in this video when I saw the title but decided to choose a different topic. I have always been interested in this subject because I lack knowledge on people who practice this type of healing. This is why I liked reading through your post to get a summary of it. It makes you realize how different some cultures are compared to our western culture and biomedical doctors. I see that shamans are more about focusing on the soul then the hard science behind things. I find it very interesting to know that more hospitals are opening up to the idea of shamans. I learned a small amount of information on these healers when I read my post ghost sickness. These healers do not seem absolutely credible to me. I believe this because they do not focus on actual science. They focus on a more holistic approach that deals with the spiritual realm. I am the type of person that believes in hard science instead of things that cannot actually be proven. I would like to get more firsthand information on this subject to get a better informed viewpoint on it. There could possibly be studies that have hard evidence which proves the effectiveness of these healers.

  3. Hi Michelle,
    You had very interesting points about Shaman healers. I actually watch Grey’s Anatomy and remember watching that episode about the Shaman healer. Shaman healers and medical doctors are very different when it comes to healing and helping people. In America there is no religious aspect to treating the ill. Most medical staff are trained to respect and take care of the patients, but there is no obligation to include a spiritual part to that method. Healthcare providers can secretly use religion to pray for a patient, but it is not mandatory and is almost discouraged. In this nation religion should be separate from jobs when it comes to healing patients. The providers can still practice their religious beliefs, but cannot force their beliefs on their patients. Shaman’s focus on the spiritual and physical health while doctors mostly focus on mental and physical health. The credibility of Shaman healers varies with location around the world. In American and western-like cultures many would say they are credible because most do not carry degrees from universities. They can be effective though when it comes to healing people. There are many ways of healing people and just because the Shaman do it differently does not make it wrong.

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