After researching the Hmong culture, I learned several interesting facts about their culture, ceremonial practices, and their views on death and dying of a loved one. Many people in the Hmong culture believe in multiple souls that reincarnate. Although for this to occur, these individuals believe that an honored deceased member must have a proper burial to enter the spirit world in a positive way. Funerals in the Hmong culture last for many days, and the more revered the deceased is the longer the funeral may be. Animal sacrifice is a common ritual performed at a Hmong funeral and the animal is used to provide food for the people attending the funeral (Purnell, 2014, p. 246).
Ethnomedicine has been historically defined as any healthcare system not present in the West; now, ethnomedicine is defined as the any cultural beliefs which surround healing in a community. The Hmong—an ethnic group located within present day Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand—have a particular system of ethnomedicine which is described as personalistic. Within a personalistic system, an active agent is the underlying cause of a disease—or etiology. Humans can be the cause of the disease as well as a number of non-human and supernatural agents. When Lia Lee began seizing at three months of age, her parents understood that the active agent which caused her epilepsy was a door slamming which caused her soul to fly from her body, an illness called quag
Selflessness is defined as “concern more with the needs of others than with one’s own” (dictionary.com). Suzanne Spaak is the perfect example of selflessness. She was willing to die for a meaningful cause she believed in: rescuing Jews throughout the Holocaust. Spaak did whatever she could to help the struggling Jews, and joined an underground movement that’s goal was to put an end to racism. She risked all that she had to stand up for what she believed in, putting all personal problems aside, to do what she knew in her heart was right. Because of her willingness to do whatever it took to help, many innocent children and adults’ lives were saved. By examining Spaak’s selflessness, bravery, and persistence, it is clear that she was indeed full of moral courage.
In John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, the archetypal mother figure of Olive Hamilton, who is modeled after the author’s own mother, is sharply contrasted with the novel’s antagonist, the ultimate anti-mother figure of Cathy Ames. This juxtaposition of characters highlights not only Olive’s loving, selfless nature, but also Cathy’s diabolical, egocentric one.
This makes it more difficult to openly trust and learn about each other’s language, culture, and traditional beliefs. A book titled “The Spirit Catches you and You Fall Down” by Anne Fadiman, an American essayist and reporter, explains the story of a Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of the two cultures. A section in this book explained some of the views Hmong individuals have about Western medicine. Fadiman explained that with the little contact Hmongs have with the Western medicine they were turned off by the constant questions, the procedures doctors used, the inability to identify the cause, and stated that “when the doctors failed to heal, it was their own fault” (Fadiman 33). This section of the book demonstrates that the Hmong did not understand the reasoning behind a doctors procedures, and did not trust them except for a last resort. If the Hmong and American doctors were able to communicate and each understand each other, then these would not be threats against the Hmongs beliefs, but rather, legitimate treatments to aid in the healing of a family member. For this reason, individuals should understand that the world is filled with diversity. To co-exist with the large diversity of languages and cultures, one must appreciate the separate beliefs and traditions especially when it comes to
The family lived by traditional Hmong, religious and cultural beliefs and practices. The believed in large families and Lia was the last of thirteen children. Each child saved for Lia was born via traditional Hmong values and this point factored in heavily to explain Lia epilepsy. The Hmong women, following birth, would bury the placenta or “jacket for the soul” believing this was crucial to death and rebirth. In Hmong culture, spirits and souls, and living and dying were intrinsically tied to religious beliefs and all must be appeased and satisfied to ensure a comfortable life. When things were out of sync, the evil spirits or “dab” needed appeasing. Lia was about four months old when she experienced her first seizure. Seizures are seen as blessings and a curses and like most physical ailments, the soul needs appeasing. She was misdiagnosed at the hospital due to her parents being unable to correctly relay the symptoms to the attending physicians. She was treated and released. It wasn’t until a couple of seizures later that the hospital understood that that the baby was suffering from seizures. Lia was to begin a strict regime of medication which was to limit the number of seizures. Because the Lee’s did not fully understand the medication and saw the epileptic seizures as part of the divine, the Lee’s did not stick to the medication as prescribed. What follows are a series of seizures, hospitalizations,
Over 28% of children in state care are abused while in the child care system. Once placed in foster care, a child is not always guaranteed to be safe from abuse. Ashley Rhodes-Courter was abused in one of the foster homes she was put in. She was starved and beaten almost on a daily basis when living in that home. Courter went through fourteen different foster homes and attended nine different schools in a span of nine years. Although Ashley Rhodes-Courter was not in the most nurturing environment as a child, she later used her experiences to become successful.
A significant amount of children in today’s society belonging to the foster care system will never gain the knowledge of their full potential. This system can provide a better life for some children or be abusive and dangerous for others. Ashley Rhodes grew up in a child care system where she acquired a difficult childhood and a failing mother, however, she gained her success today while in the system.
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down opened my eyes to a new perspective of embracing cultural diversity as I compared the Hmong culture to my own. In today’s society, everyone has that sense of ethnocentrism. Most of society takes for granted how blessed they are. For example, my culture typically lives in nice neighborhoods and areas that are not primarily secluded. We take pride in the houses we build and the amenities in them, such as toilets and refrigerators. We are able to decide what career field we want to pursue, and are able to work up in the social rankings despite our class upon birth. The Hmong culture, on the other hand; are accustomed to living in the mountains and all have the same occupation: farming. As stated in the book, the Hmong were unfamiliar with toilets. Their toilets were the dirt floor of their home. For me, that was an eye opener.
Although often used interchangeably, disease and illness differ fundamentally in their meanings and implications. Disease is the commonly thought of concept in which a person suffers due to a physiological or psychological ailment, while illness refers to a culmination of physical, emotional and social suffering of a person. Disease is perceived as the phenomena that affects an organism, while illness affects not only the patient but also their loved ones and community. This distinction is vividly apparent in The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, in which Anne Fadiman relays the approaches to a Hmong child named Lia’s epilepsy by her family and her doctors as well as the tumultuous interaction between these caregivers. It is interesting to understand how Hmong culture and a doctor’s
The Spirit Catches you and You fall down centers on Lia Lee, an epileptic Hmong Child who is caught in-between care of her loving parents and the responsibility of her caring doctors. Her parents are traditional Hmong’s who are hesitant towards American medicinal methods compared to Hmong traditional methods. While on the other side stands her American doctors, who were educated in American Universities and are for the most part are very much against treating Lia with anything besides the practice they’ve been educated on. This paper will first provide a short summary of the book which will mainly include the Hmong involvement in the Vietnam War. Followed by two anthropological concepts. The first which will analyze
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is a tragic true story written by Anne Fadiman, who spent over five years in the middle of a fight between Hmong culture and American medicine. The book is about a young Hmong child named Lia Lee. At 3 months old she started showing signs of severe epilepsy. Her American doctors had a strict and rigorous treatment plan, but were baffled when the family refused to follow it because of their culture and beliefs. Anne Fadiman originally went to the Lee’s hometown of Merced California as a columnist writing an article on Hmong culture for Life Magazine, but soon gained a personal connection to the Lee family. She does a wonderful job of showing both the Hmong and American side of the story by providing
In her novel Oranges Are not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson describes the conflictual relationship between a profoundly religious adoptive mother and her lesbian daughter, Jeanette. The writer’s decision to give the main character her own name reflects the autobiographical content of the novel, since the story is based on the author’s own life. The first part of the chapter examines how the whole story can be interpreted as a fairy tale, and how the mother’s role profoundly changes according to her attitude towards the heroine-narrator. Secondly, the final reconciliation between the two female characters is analysed. Finally, the reasons for the adoptive mother’s rejection of Jeanette’s lesbian nature are discussed.