The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down By Lia Lee

Improved Essays
The acknowledgement of cultural differences when deciding how to proceed with medical treatment is vital, but when these cultural differences interfere with the preservation of life and the public health, a balance must be struck between a respect for other cultures and societal well-being. In The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Lia Lee, who suffered from a serious form of epilepsy, faced obstacles in her treatment not only because of the doctors’ lack of complete understanding as to her condition, but her parents’ resistance to the actions of the doctors. The reason for this is twofold: a linguistic barrier prevented efficient and complete communication, and a severe cultural divide between the doctors’ ethnomedicine and traditional …show more content…
One doctor went as far as to state that ‘We believe that modern-day Hitlers have deliberately adulterated the oral polio vaccines with anti-fertility drugs and…viruses which are known to cause HIV and AIDS.’ This widespread distribution of misinformation, which was eventually supported by local governments, lead to the rejection of the OPV, destroying the mission of eradicating polio worldwide by 2005, amended from the original goal of …show more content…
In the moment Lia was presented to them as a patient, their first concern was her immediate health and preservation of life. They were not educated in Hmong beliefs about what they called epilepsy, nor were they particularly concerned with the opinions of the parents when Lia was in the emergency room, seizing. In the long run, an understanding of the Hmong culture, and how their beliefs intertwine and conflict with those of biomedicine, would be beneficial to not only Hmong patients and their families, but also to the relationship, strained at times, between the American doctors and the large Hmong population of Merced County. However, this could only conceivably exist in a perfect world, where translators were provided to hospitals by the State, the lexicons of the two languages aligned in a harmony that would permit the direct and efficient translation of biomedical practices, and there did not already exist a historic rift in trust between biomedical doctors and the Hmong population, a distrust and misunderstanding that existed both

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