Summary Of The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down By Anne Fadiman

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The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman is an analysis of Western medicine and traditional Hmong medicine in the treatment of a young child with severe epilepsy in Merced, California. The book also details Hmong culture, history, and their life as refugees in the United States. The majority of the Hmong populations, especially in central California where the book takes place, rely on welfare and this creates tensions with the other populations in the area. Her book is an eye opening introduction into the Hmong culture, the clash of traditional and western medicine, the discrimination of refugees, and the importance of cultural inclusivity.
The book follows
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She mentions how Lia’s traditional treatment from her parents “ran parallel to her medical course rather than intertwining with it” (Fadiman 2012). She would like medicine to become more bio-culturally inclusive. Citing cases of culturally inclusion are helpful to Fadiman’s argument. A few cases where doctors referred patients to traditional healers are mentioned, like Luis Estevez in the Bronx who would refer Puerto Rican and Dominican patients to a Santeria high priest (Fadiman 2012). Fadiman mentions how this was implemented in Fresno during the 1980’s with the Nationalities Service of Central California. It was a federal grant used to establish “an integrated mental health delivery service utilizing Hmong healers and western mental health providers” (Fadiman 2012). The program was successful and treated 250 patients. In one case, the traditional healer, the txiv neeb, was able to heal a man with a swollen penis. Another case, the txiv neeb was unable to heal his patient with gall bladder problems, but was able to help assist the patient in consenting to surgery. During the mid-1990’s, cross-cultural training emerged slowly in medicine. For example, in 1996, “the American Academy of Family Physicians endorsed a set of “Recommended Core Curriculum Guidelines on Culturally Sensitive and Competent Health Care” (Fadiman 2012). Merced also began implementing…show more content…
The parallel medical treatments Lia received reminded me of this article because the illegal Hispanic immigrants received parallel treatment as well because of fear, which is something Lia’s parents mentioned as well. Fear influenced Foua and Nao Kao’s decision to stop treating her with western medicine. They feared Western drugs were making her sick and that the government would take her away again. Their fear and distrust is similar to the fear and distrust the Hispanics in Atlanta felt. Some of the Hispanic immigrants turned to traditional medicine because they feared deportation and distrusted the government. Their legal situations were different because the Hmong were refugees and the Hispanics were illegal immigrants, but both groups faced similar experiences with Western medicine and parallel
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