Traditional healers also known as curanderismo are important part of Latin American culture, society and a way of life. Traditional healers have been a part of Latin American culture for thousands of years and even today are considered as important as the traditional health care professionals (Avila, 1999). The services of these healers are used extensively and they are well respected and admired members of the community. Not anyone can be a healer and in order to become one a special talent and extensive training is needed (Avila, 1999). The purpose of this paper is to discuss the role of traditional healers in Latin American culture and to discuss what economic, social and religious reasons traditional healers are still so popular in this day and age in Latin America. Who Can Be a Traditional Healer?
One of the most interesting aspects of the traditional healers in Latin America is that no everyone can be one. This is a striking contrast with traditional medical professionals where calling has become something secondary and where more people than not go into the medical field not because of genuine desire to help but because it pays well. The story is completely different for the traditional healers as the next generation is carefully hand-picked based on what is called “el don” or a gift (Avila, 1999). This gift cannot be acquired or trained, a person either has it or not. Having gift is not enough though as a new apprentice has to train for a very long time under the practicing traditional healer in order to learn the mastery and the craft of healing (Trotter & Chavira, 1997). Another interesting distinction between what Latin American traditional healers and regular health care professionals is the core philosophy that underlines their work. Traditional medicine focuses on symptoms and causes, while for the traditional healer the most important core of any problem is spiritual one, as the illness is the essentially an imbalance that has to...
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