This case in particular is a clash between two cultures; the modern medicine culture of Linda Gorman and the traditional cure lu Mien culture of Mrs. Saeto. Before casting judgment on who is right and who is wrong with regards to Marie, it is important to decode these two particular cultures so we can distinguish the differences between the American culture and the lu Mien culture; considering upon reading about the burns, most if not all Americans would agree that this curing practice is barbaric and abusive.
Every culture comes with stories, symbols and world views; and often times they are in disagreement. For instance, at the heart of the lu Mien culture is the theory of animism, “the view that the world is inhabited by spirits that reside in things, including people” (Hachen, n. d. ) Not to mention the cure used on Marie is also considered a ceremony in lu Mien culture, thusly the objects used have symbolic value (Hachen, n. d. With regards to Linda’s modern medicine culture; this practice comes with rituals in the form of examinations, symbols with regards to white walls and various sterile instruments used to conduct the examinations, and worldviews with regards to science and the scientific method. Upon differentiating the two cultures, we come to the conclusion that in the American culture the acts bestowed upon Marie are wrong and potential harmful, while the lu Mien culture considers them useful and effective.
Therefore, we encroach upon the dilemma of cultural relativity, “the view that practices and behaviors can be judged only by the cultural standards of the culture in which those practices occur” (Hachen, n. d. ). In a situation such as this, if we disregard cultural relativity it will certainly imply that there are universal standards by which the practices in all cultures can be evaluated. “The problem with this position is that often when people claim there are such universal standards, it turns out that those standards are just the standards of their culture” (Hachen, n. . ) Thus, resulting in ethnocentrism; “the view that one’s own culture is the superior culture and therefore its standards are the “universal” ones that should be used to judge behaviors in all cultures” (Hachen, n. d. ). This ethnocentrism is evident when Linda ponders her own cultural insensitivities towards the lu Mien culture, reflects on her own cultural assumptions about pain infliction with regards to immunizations, and wonders whether it is child abuse concurrent with the American law, however; keep in mind, it is a normal practice in lu Mien culture to burn hildren (Hachen, n. d. ) I have come to the conclusion that if an individual wants to work in healthcare they must respect cultural differences of all patients they come in contact with. Outside of the burns, Marie is in wonderful condition; she is healthy, well feed and thriving. Before noting the burns, Linda would consider Mrs. Saeto as a truly caring and compassionate parent, and it is further validated by her desire to make Marie healthy; although by means that are highly scrutinized practices in the American culture. It would be my recommendation to talk with Mrs.
Saeto about her curing practices and suggest alternatives in modern medicine that would provide less harm to the child; all while remaining culturally sensitivity to Mrs. Saeto. The last thing Linda needs is Mrs. Saeto to feel disrespected as a patient by rejecting her culture and way of life. And it is not within Linda’s power to force someone to assimilate to the American way of life. Keep in mind, Mrs. Saeto already tried this once with a negative impact and resorted back to the lu Mien culture and found comfort and reassurance.
Additionally, I feel that Linda should resort to her colleagues and perhaps an ethics committee to make sure she is in compliance with all legislation. Even though this practice was not a direct act of child abuse and is product of lu Mien culture, it may very well be viewed as child abuse in the American culture. Linda should take prophylactic measures considering it is the duty of all health care workers to report any suspected child abuse. As stated this case can be viewed two different ways by two different cultures; and the deciding factor would be American law.
Who is right and who is wrong? Remember it is important to decode these cultures and understand the symbols, values and worldwide views that they represent. It is a touchy subject however; considering Mrs. Saeto now lives in America, and as the old saying applies, when in Rome, you must do as the Romans (Hachen, n. d. ) References Hachen, D. (n. d. ) Sociology in Action: Cases for Critical and Sociological Thinking. Retrieved October 28, 2012 from http://www. nd. edu/~dhachen/page6/page8/files/im-final. pdf