The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down By Anne Fadiman

545 Words3 Pages

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 …show more content…

The doctors diagnose Lia to have epilepsy caused by the misfiring of neurons in the brain. In contrast, Lia’s parents blame the banging of a door loudly or falling off a swing to have caused the soul to have left the body and possibly be captured by a malicious spirit called a daab. However, it is intriguing that the physicians determine the prognosis of epilepsy to disadvantageous to the development of Lia, while her Hmong parents see this as a call to become a txiv neeb, a Hmong healer. Nonetheless, the most significant contrast is illustrated in the different treatments prescribed by the doctors, who constantly tried to adjust medication to control the seizures and the parents, who believed a combination of some medicine, with the sacrifice of an animal and the healing ceremony by a txiv neeb was what was necessary to improve Lia’s health. Evidently such differences in opinion, aided by difficulties in communication due to a language barrier, led to conflicts between Lia’s physicians and parents that ultimately compromised her level of

Open Document