The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down By Anne Fadiman

1467 Words6 Pages

The spirit catches you and you fall down: A Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures by Anne Fadiman illuminates the dilemmas, as well as barriers, persons of various cultural backgrounds can encounter daily, specifically when residing in a foreign habitation of different practices, perspectives and beliefs. This book highlights the difficulties one family must face during a clash between Hmong family cultural beliefs and western medicine. Fadiman (1997) brings our attention to these harsh realties that one can encounter when persons are unintentionally culturally incompetent through sharing the story of the Lia Lee and her parents, Nao Kao and Foua, who look for guidance from western doctors to assist their spiritual …show more content…

This strong belief against only using medical help was heightened by the doctors frustration towards the Lee family for not following instructions, as well as the difference in perspectives of seeing Lia’s condition as special, the Lee family feeling as if Lia was “like a member of royalty” (Fadiman, 1997, p.22) due to her condition, and the doctors stubbornness to treat it with a multitude of medications with negative side effects. Unfortunately, the combination of not understanding the medication application, as well as conflicting culture beliefs, lead the doctors to think the Lee family was not complying with them, and felt “Lia’s parents were endangering her health” (Fadiman, 1997, p.79) which lead them to contact child services. This process of taking away Lia, which only worsened her condition, could have been handled more appropriately if the doctors had underwent enculturation, being defined as “the process of learning behaviors, languages, beliefs, and roles common to ones first or home cultures” (Barrera et al., 2012 p. xx), this allowing the doctors to not think poorly of the Lia’s parent’s but instead understanding of the cultural beliefs and reasons for them. However, it would be unfair to state the doctors didn’t give the Lee’s the benefit of the doubt, Fadiman (1997) stating that Neil, one of Lia’s doctors, “postponed calling Child Protective Services for as long as he could, giving Lia’s parents every possible chance to reform, talking the case over with his wife every night” (Fadiman, 1997, p.79) and only reported the family under the true impression that he was doing what was in the best interest of

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