Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Expert Opinion: Native Healing Adds to Western Medicine

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Expert Opinion: Native Healing Adds to Western Medicine

Article excerpt

KANSAS CITY, MO. -- When she confirmed that the lump in the young Navajo woman's breast was cancer, Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord recommended surgery. But she also suggested that the surgery could wait while the young woman consulted with a medicine man.

Dr. Alvord, a surgeon in Gallup, N.M., and a member of the Navajo nation, said that she recommended seeing a medicine man so that he could help the patient better prepare mentally and spiritually to undergo surgery and to fight the disease.

Such ceremonies involve family and friends gathering around the patient, sometimes for days at a time, Dr. Alvord said at a conference of family practice residents and medical students.

"Ceremonies are magical and powerful things. A spiritual intensity and an energy surrounds the healing ceremony that is almost completely absent in Western medicine."

The young Navajo woman was willing to see a medicine man but wasn't sure if she wanted to have the surgery, Dr. Alvord said.

A few weeks later, the patient returned, and said she had decided to go ahead with the surgery. …

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