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

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In her book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Anne Fadiman describes the story of the Lee family and the conflicting views that arose between Western and Eastern beliefs on providing Lia medical aid. When Laos fell to the communists, the Lees were among the thousands of Hmong who fled the country. They arrived in the U.S. with their seven children and settled in the town Merced. When the Lee’s fourteenth child, Lia, was three months, her older sister slammed the front door of the apartment and Lia fainted. Her parents Nao Kao and Foua Lee believed that the noise frightened Lia’s soul to flee from her body and became lost which they associated with qaug dab peg: “the spirit catches you and you fall down”. When her father carried her …show more content…

Neil Ernst and Peggy Philp were the two supervising pediatricians for Lia and no matter how frustrating the situation got, they would never see themselves abandoning the case. Neil admits he thought it was important for the Hmong community to understand that “there were certain elements of medicine that we understood better than they did” and it was “necessary that they followed” (78). So he decided to send a nurse to the Lee home to try to improve the family's compliance with Lia’s medication …show more content…

This book proved that in the end, neither way of thinking was completely wrong or completely right. Both the medical community and the Lees should have sought out ways in which they were able to better come to an agreement. For instance, the medical community could have tried to find a translator for the Lees which could have helped them both determine proper medical procedures. They also could have decided to learn more about the Hmong culture to have some understanding of where the Lees were coming from and avoid any barriers for them to better treat Lia. A big drawback that the medical community made was having a pessimistic outlook to Lia’s critical condition. They constantly brought up the idea of Lia dying to her family rather than supporting the family through this difficult moment. The Lees on the other hand, should have tried to comply with doctors and tried to put a greater effort in taking Lia to appointments. Also being aware of their inability to communicate should have looked for some English classes somewhere in the community. Both medical community and the Lees could have compromised and tried to get rid of any cultural barriers to get a desired

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