Virtuous Transcendence : Holistic Self-Cultivation and Self-Healing in Elderly Korean Immigrants book cover
1st Edition

Virtuous Transcendence
Holistic Self-Cultivation and Self-Healing in Elderly Korean Immigrants

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ISBN 9780789009296
Published May 18, 2000 by Routledge
250 Pages

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Book Description

Understand why elderly Korean immigrants behave in the ways that they do, holistically!

Virtuous Transcendence: Holistic Self-Cultivation and Self-Healing in Elderly Korean Immigrants richly and vividly relates elderly Korean immigrants’personal stories of day-to-day life, illness, and self-care. It encourages a better, more complete understanding of the cross-cultural issues involved with health problems in relation to everyday life, in American and Korean contexts. Here is a book that enables laypersons, researchers, scholars and health providers to work more closely together through an understanding of cultural differences and harmony.

The prologue speaks of a second generation Korean-American young man who questioned, “Why are all Korean things [art, movies, songs] sad?”

Koreans seem to appreciate the melancholy of a sentimental nature. In the last century they faced tragedies like human cruelty, hunger from poverty, lack of educational opportunity, separation from loved ones by wars, rejection, betrayal, mistrust, and even death. Virtuous Transcendence illuminates the concept that Koreans have developed ways of turning depression into 'sweet sorrow’to be able to live with it as a transcending experience instead of abhorring it.

Professor Pang's in-depth research broadly and deeply discusses the origins and holistic aspects of illness in the elderly. Virtuous Transcendence clearly expresses her enlightened, original, and revolutionary idea of somatization as a means of interpreting and coping with personal distress and social stress.

Virtuous Transcendence will enlighten you with intimate accounts of the experiences of elderly Korean immigrants, with emphasis on:

  • health issues including common illnesses such as hwabyung
  • somatization as a healing process
  • depression
  • their methods of self-care
  • their ethos
  • their personal, spiritual, and family relationships

    Elderly Korean immigrants have a unique way of looking at life, and Virtuous Transcendence clarifies Korean mind-body relationships that have been unclear until now despite decades of study. Here is an opportunity to truly appreciate the subtlety and delicacy of Korean cultural dynamics!

    Here you will find first-person accounts of elderly Korean immigrants’past and present experiences in Korea and America--their life patterns, values, beliefs, attitudes, and personalities, and their reasons for behaving as they do, holistically.

Table of Contents


  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Theoretical Foundation
  • Method
  • Trying to Live As Americans Do
  • Still Living by Korean Customs
  • Parents Can Take Care of Ten Children, but Ten Children Cannot Support Their Parents
  • Family Life
  • Women's Lives
  • Men's Lives
  • Health, Illness and Self-Care
  • At Last, Death
  • Theoretical Background in Somatization and Self-Care
  • Discussion and Conclusion
  • Part I: Ethos, Health, and Illness
  • Chapter 1. Theoretical Foundation
  • The Urge to Tell Stories
  • Depression
  • Korean Ethos
  • Mind-Body-Nature Cultivation in Korea
  • Ancestors, Family, and Filial Piety in Korea
  • Proverbs Reflecting Korean Values
  • Self-Care
  • Other Remedies
  • Korean Immigrants and Depression
  • Chapter 2. Method
  • Sample
  • Meaning and Interpretation of “Stories About Everyday Life”
  • Part II: Korean-American Stories
  • Chapter 3. Trying to Live As Americans Do
  • Optimistic Start: “I Don't See People, Only Cars on the Street”
  • Sad But Not Depressed: “Are We Beggars or Houseguests in America?”
  • Accepting Children's Adaptation to American Ways
  • The Transformation of Despair into Hope
  • Stress Caused by Discrimination
  • Helping Children and Preparing for the Citizenship Test at the Same Time
  • An Elderly Immigrant Woman's Life
  • Chapter 4. Still Living by Korean Customs
  • Ancestor Veneration and Hwabyung: Psychosocial, Cosmological, and Supernatural Causes
  • A Virtuous Woman Leading a Contented Life
  • A Cultivated Person Will Not Be Depressed
  • A Wise Mother and a Good Wife (Hyun Mo Yang Chuh)
  • Living in a Four-Generation Extended Family Household
  • Dealing with Age Discrimination
  • Chapter 5. Parents Can Take Care of Ten Children, but Ten Children Cannot Support Their Parents
  • Living Independently and Transcending Grief
  • Happiness and Gratitude
  • Hwabyung and Intergenerational Conflicts
  • Demystifying Family Solidarity: “I Fought with My Only Child Every Day”
  • Inability to Forgive a Grandchild
  • Chapter 6. Family Life
  • A Couple Living Separately for the Children's Sake
  • A Son Who Obeys His Wife's Command
  • Shame and Guilt Experiences Because of Deaths in the Family
  • Chapter 7. Women's Lives: Has Marriage Been Bitter, Salty, or Hot?
  • Enjoying Peace: Forgiving the Unforgivable Through God's Grace
  • Continued Suffering After Many Losses
  • Achieving Healing After Injury to the Mind, Emotions, and Soul
  • Materially Poor, but Free of Hwabyung and Living by Faith
  • Depression: A Personal Experience
  • Regret and Anxiety in Anticipation of Death
  • “I Laugh When People Say They Have Hwabyung”
  • Chapter 8. Men's Lives: “I Have to Cook and Do The Wash Although I Am a Man”
  • A Lonely Korean Gentleman
  • Depression Caused by Health Problems
  • Pluralistic Care for Holistic Health
  • Chapter 9. Health, Illness, and Self-Care: “There Is No Caring Son for a Long Illness”
  • A Natural Progression of Later Life
  • Physical Illness Caused by Depression
  • Health Through Independence
  • Living Courageously and Patiently
  • The Tasks of Old Age
  • Emotions Expressed As Physical Illness
  • Recovery from Abuse Through Self-Cultivation
  • Keeping Faith and High Moral Standards of Conduct to Defeat Depression
  • Chapter 10. At Last, Death: Can a Person Really Want to Die?
  • Disengagement of Korean Elders
  • Waiting to Die Naturally
  • Discussion and Conclusion
  • Sociodemographic Observations
  • Reciprocal Relations with Children
  • Filial Piety
  • Changes in Gender Roles
  • Creating Harmony with Children
  • Past Traumas
  • The Need to Reciprocate
  • The Struggle for Harmony Through Independence
  • Does Fatalism Stop People from Helping Themselves?
  • Koreans and Chong
  • Korean

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