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The Hmong & SUNDS

From around 1950 - 1975 the US Government recruited and trained the Hmong (a tribal people from the hill country of Loas) as a guerrilla force to counter the Communist Pathet Lao insurgency. After the war end most of them fled to refugee camps in Thailand & more that 100K of them ended up in the US. Starting in 1977 a large amount of Hmong in the US started to die of what is now called SUNDS. SUNDS has the same features as the "old hag" phenom. which is when a spirit being comes in to the bedroom, pins and suffocates the victim to death. Normally only 25% of people in the US experience this. However these people reported between 50 and 60% of them were expierenceing this. Of those that converted to Christianity the number jumps to 72%. In their native religion the tradition is to practice ancestor worship in order to obtain protection from the "dah"

Keep reading below...

Answer Question

Asked by SabrinaMBowen at 6:13 PM on Oct. 5, 2009 in Religion & Beliefs

Level 40 (122,988 Credits)
Answers (10)
  • The "dab" are monsters who live in caves under ground durring the night and come out at night to attack people. The "dab tsog" is namely the one that sits on it's victims to suffocate them to death durring the night.

    In their native religion they would preform daily rituals and offer sacrifices to their gods and spirits of ancestors in return from protection from the "dab"...

    As the Hmong that moved to the US stoped practicing their religion due to the lack of animals to sacrifice and lack of ability to gather in large groups (because there were so few of them) these occurances became more and more common.

    Since 1981 most of the Hmong left urban areas and moved to more rural areas, where traditional clans and extended families can be reunited and religious practices renewed. In responce SUNDS deaths have been on a steady decline...

    What do you think? Are their religious traditions keeping them from being attacked?

    Answer by SabrinaMBowen at 6:21 PM on Oct. 5, 2009

  • And do you think that them being forced to stop following their religious practices could actually have a great deal to do with their deaths?? Since those that fully converted away from their religious traditions were affected more than those that didn't could it be a faith deal? or something more??

    Answer by SabrinaMBowen at 6:22 PM on Oct. 5, 2009

  • hmmm. this is definately a thinker.


    Answer by Princessofscots at 6:22 PM on Oct. 5, 2009

  • It is interesting reading Sabrina... but if you are forced to practice something that isn't in YOUR heart to practice, I would think your spirit dying could actually cause your physical death.

    Answer by gmasboy at 7:21 PM on Oct. 5, 2009

  • Good thinking gmasboy... But the Hmong were not forced to practice anything else. They were simply unable in most cases to continue with their normal practices. They needed a Shaman to deal with spirits for them, animals to sacrifice and even a specific house design to continue with their traditions... These things just weren't available in the cities of America the way they were in their home land. It is rather interesting to me however that the number of insidences droped as they moved back to rural areas and were able to again practice...

    Answer by SabrinaMBowen at 7:46 PM on Oct. 5, 2009

  • People are very capable of believing themselves to death.. in other words it sounds as if the Hmong haven't forgiven themselves for their lack of worship and truly believe this will be the result.. same as with people believing a voodoo curse and dying from it.. our brains are amazing things, *faith* isn't always so amazing...

    Answer by mtnmama111 at 7:51 PM on Oct. 5, 2009

  • Mtnmama said what I was thinking, but there could be a host of other reasons, from environmental factors, diet changes, lack of connection to a culture you have grown up with, the poverty many experience here in America. I live in the Central Valley of California and from outside observation it seems more likely that it is a problem of cultural class. Many of the young Hmong have become very Americanized, many of the older ones just seem lost in this culture.

    Answer by teamquinn at 8:12 PM on Oct. 5, 2009

  • That is fascinating.  Mind over body is always interesting to me.


    Answer by pnwmom at 8:38 PM on Oct. 5, 2009

  • That's interesting... There are a LOT (and I mean a LOT) of Hmongs here in Wisconsin. This is one of the main places they are sent (yes, they are STILL sent much so that they are probably the top minority here). I have known many of them from working with them..and I've never heard of this. In fact I've been told their religion doesn't really even involve a god. Like teamquinn said, there are many who are very caught up in their culture so much so that they don't adopt our way of life at all and just rely on family who can speak english and do other things like that for them. On the other hand, some of the young ones are no different than any other average American.

    I think the explanation for the deaths could very well be a disease that has come over form Laos and so seems to only effect Hmongs so far....or it could be as others said...believing yourself to death....or a combination of both.

    Answer by metalcowgirl34 at 9:12 PM on Oct. 5, 2009

  • If you want another piece of trivia, the Hmong cases where part of the inspiration for the movie A Nightmare on Elm Street. I know that's not really relevant, but I'm a horror movie fan so I couldn't resist!
    Honestly, I don't know what to think, except that it's creepy! I think there could be any variety of explanations, ranging from the mundance (prevalence of a certain genetic illness in that ethnic group) to the supernatural. Interesting though!

    Answer by Freela at 10:39 PM on Oct. 5, 2009

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