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

In the article “A Doctor for Disease, a Shaman for the Soul” it covers the topic of Shamans, and doctors, and their ability to work together for the people of Laos. This article goes into discussion about the barrier between Western medicine, and Shamans, that once existed, however it now is no longer. In Mercy Medical Center, they have allowed Shamans to come n and perform ceremonies on willing patients. By doing so it is bridging the two distinct cultures, and providing a health care experience that can benefit both the patient, and the doctor. It also goes on to talk about the specific ceremonies that are performed, and while some may not have a direct, and specific effect to the body, the placebo effect may help tremendously.

In the article the healers are the Shamans. Through many different rituals, like placing a rooster on the chest of a patient to absorb mean spirits, or burning pieces of paper to ward off mean spirits, the Shaman is there to make sure the soul of the patient is still there, and happy. They are very hands on with their patients inside and outside of the hospital, however a majority of rituals are toned down within the hospital setting. I believe that the social status of the Shaman is very high. Their ability to help the spirit, and comfort the sick, is a very important task in which a lot of people within the culture take very seriously.

The systems in which the Shaman work can be both hospital and residential. The Shamans go into hospital rooms, and homes, and perform the ceremonies with the patients, as well as their close family members. I believe that the body and symptoms aren’t totally understood within the culture, however the Shamans do understand that there is something wrong. Considering the rituals performed don’t necessarily address the actual problem they still can provide a “placebo effect” like I had mentioned earlier. Overall, I think it is a very good sign that the Shamans are being integrated into these hospitals, because it shows progression in the combining of cultures, and is a positive step in the right direction.

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