Argumentative Essay





Argumentative Essay

The Hmong are distinctive ethnic group with origins from china, who managed to migrate into Southeast Asia in the 19th century. There is a significant number living in Southwestern China, Southeast Asia, and Vietnam. The Hmong are distinctively group oriented, with the interest of the community or group being primary than individual needs. The individual belongs to the family, whereas the family is defined by the clan. It is noted that 19 Hmong clans live in Laos. The members share identification elements such as similar surnames. Additionally, the lack of definitive blood provides them within distinctive social bonds aimed at providing support to one another. Cultural values are depicted through the diverse styles of communication and interaction utilized. This is an impediment towards assimilation of foreigners such as healthcare professionals into Hmong communities. Understanding the importance of the various cultural practices towards healing practices amongst the Hmong is critical towards enabling physicians undertaking successful interventions and treatment to the Hmong patients.

The cultural values, attitudes, and behaviors are a critical consideration towards acceptance to use western medicine amongst the Hmong. The primary and most respected caregiver amongst Hmong is the shaman or Tu Txiv neeb. In western biomedicine, healthcare professionals cannot be likened to the shaman given his extensive capabilities and scope of practice. Acculturation of Hmong and conversion to other religious groups such as Islam and Christianity has not been effective in elimination of the role of various cultural practices such as the use of shaman in traditional healing and health. Despite the presence of effective and efficient healthcare systems for Hmong populations around the world, they still rely on shamans to achieve balance in health, body, mind, and soul.

The shaman retains an important role in the Hmong culture and as means of complementing western forms of healthcare services. It is noted that in Hmong language, there are words to describe various diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and hypertension. These emerging diseases were non-existent in Laos. In Hmong culture, it is understood that diseases arise from disruption of existing balance in the dynamic interactions between persons, spirits, and souls. This demands the attention of traditional healers or shamans (Tu Txiv neeb) to ensure restoration of the balance between these elements (Fadiman 23).

In the treatment or healing process, the shaman ventures away from the material into the spiritual world. By venturing into the spiritual world, the shaman is able to make determination of the illnesses and undertake treatment of the specific spiritual causes of ailments that may be manifested by nonspecific, general, and persistent indications such as troubling dreams, fatigue, and loneliness. Subsequently, the shaman effects cure through retrieval of the lost souls of the ailing individual by undertaking special rituals.

Essentially patients from the Hmong community are increasingly seeking out healthcare from western healthcare providers. Western healthcare is increasingly becoming a preferable alternative for Hmong populations while visiting shamans remains a critical component of their culture. A majority of medical professionals such as physicians seeking to deliver expert care to these populations may find it a challenge to deliver evidence based care and maintaining the biomedical standards of care demanded in modern healthcare delivery systems. Medical professionals may be marred by frustration towards interactions with Hmong patients to ensure that they understand and adhere to set out medical provisions for effective treatment and delivery of care. Furthermore, it is critical for medical practitioners to recognize that shamans still assume a critical role in the healing and treatment amongst the Hmong. This is critical for ensuring the delivery if effective, efficient and optimized quality care even in the most challenging medical conditions prevalent amongst Hmong populations (Fadiman 23).

In contemporary settings, the traditional religious beliefs held by the Hmong people can be termed as dated for dealing with modern challenges. In essence, life is understood to be a continuous cycle that starts with birth and culminates in rebirth. This is founded on the belief of the presence of two worlds, the physical, and spiritual, which interact or coexist with one another. The shamans are able to access both worlds and in the process gain significant knowledge and wisdom for treatment of various physical, spiritual and mental health problems affecting their patients. These beliefs are presumably reasonable given that physical and mental or spiritual health aspects interact towards the wellbeing of the human body. The lack of balance or disruption of the state of the mind usually has a negative effect on the physical wellbeing of an individual.

In addition, the Hmong believe that an individual has several souls. The human body and the souls interact to establish a balance that is manifested through life and good health. The lack of balance between the souls and the physical and mental aspects of the body gives rise to ailments. The loss of a soul is also understood to be associated with illness upon being taken by a spiritual force. In essence, medical practitioners should understand that shamanism is widely used amongst Hmong communities. In addition, it is utilized as a means of complimenting western healthcare system, given that is considered as a critical and effective form of care amongst Hmong populations. Shamanism is a critical cultural resource, and is part of a broad spectrum of healing practices that are utilized by the Hmong people (Fadiman 33).

Shamanism is a widely applied practice in the Hmong community to complement visits to physicians. Research is indicative that the application of shamanism does not expressly oppose the use of modern physician care. In essence, the use of shamanism stems from the cultural considerations of the Hmong community towards ensuring balance between the spiritual mental and physical aspects of a human being. The values held by the Hmong community are critical for the establishment and maintenance of their identity. Their cultural identity stems from the need to ensure respect for traditional practices such as religious ceremonies. Religious ceremonies such as the use of shamanic and non-shamanic healers such as the Tu Txiv neeb and Kws Tshuaj is important towards enabling the members of this community to retain their identity and respect for cultural practices  (Fadiman 39).

Kws Tshuaj is a non-shamanic traditional healer who provides herbal medicine as an alternative to western medicine. They have assumed critical roles in the Hmong community with the capabilities of providing treatment for various physical health problems. Other non-shamanic traditional healers include the Tu kws khawv koob, who is refereed to as a magic healer. They gain their skills from apprenticeship. They utilize magical words and skills towards treating various medical problems. The traditional religious approach towards health, spiritual and mental problems and wellbeing and health amongst the Hmong is illustrative of the critical role assumed by religious practices amongst this community.

Medical practitioners should make it their prerogative to understand the role played by culture in the various religious beliefs held by Hmong community members. The utilization of herbs should be understood to evaluate the contraindications that could arise from interactions between herbs and modern medicine and interventions. Acceptance of the importance of such religious practices amongst Hmong patients enables physicians and other medical practitioners to make informed decisions on treatment and medical intervention strategies to be utilized. The presence of conflicts between religious medical practices amongst the Hmong and the emergence of efficient, reliable, and effective medical interventions may be an impediment for medical practitioners to deliver care to Hmong patients.

Evidence from research suggests that Hmong patients utilizing medical practitioners and traditional practices such as shamanic and non-shamanic healers create conflicts amongst medical professionals on the appropriate techniques that they should use to provide care treatment. This is attributable to viewing symptoms because of spiritual problems as opposed to medical origins, rendering them to focus sourcing help from shamanic and non-shamanic healers. If a visit to a shamanic or non-shamanic healer has positive effects, this eliminates the faith to access medical healthcare facilities for professional care.

Utilizing cultural values, beliefs, and attitudes can enable medical practitioners to deliver efficient and effective medical care to Hmong patients. Through their cultural perspectives towards human health in its various aspects such as mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing, medical practitioners are able to deliver expert and respectable care to the patients. This illustrates that provision of medical care to Hmong, who presumably hold strong beliefs towards their culture can only be achieved through developing interventions that are highly appealing to their respective needs for care.

Cultural values are illustrated through the presence of diverse styles of communication and interaction amongst members of the community and their spiritual leaders such as shamans and non-shamanic healers (Appiah 45). Understanding the importance of the various cultural practices towards healing practices amongst the Hmong is critical towards enabling physicians undertaking successful interventions and treatment to the Hmong patients. Delivery of care to these communities is reliant on the ability to interpret basic or critical aspects of religious beliefs into medical practices and enabling the patients to understand the effectiveness and critical nature of modern healthcare interventions.



















Works Cited

Appiah, Anthony. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2006. Print.

Fadiman, A. (1997). The spirit catches you and you fall down: A Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

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