Where a Doctor Saw a Treatable Cancer, a Patient Saw an Evil Spirit

July 3, 2017

(STAT News) – Thousands of Hmong emigrated from Southeast Asia after the Vietnam War, when the CIA recruited them to fight or spy on the United States’s behalf, only to face harsh repercussions after U.S. forces withdrew. Many Hmong understand physical illness in mystical terms: an evil spirit, or “dab,” can enter the body if a person is badly startled, for instance, or if a baby’s placenta is not properly buried. A dab might depart only if a person takes specific actions, like drinking an herbal remedy while also leaving a cup of the remedy for the dab to drink.

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