Existential Crisis In Lia Lee

1392 Words 6 Pages
For Hmong who maintain their traditional beliefs in America, the scientific worldview and Western medicine, have challenged their entire means of understanding the world. Likewise, Hmong beliefs have done the same to Western medical practice. In the story of Lia Lee, her treatment via her doctors seemed to be none the same as her parents’ perception of illness, yet there lies two crucial ideas in common. Foremost, they both wanted to heal Lia. Secondly, each party was forced to understand an “existential crisis” like Lia Lee’s sickness. In these moments both Lia Lee’s parents and her pediatricians began questioning their cosmological systems and rituals. Both sides created chaos and needed to understand the cosmos in sickness and health while …show more content…
His theory provides a paradigmatic solution to an existential crisis. In the case of Lia Lee, it is not just that the Lee’s did not understand the words of the doctors. Their religion, and hence the way that they see the world, did not have the conceptual framework to understand Western medical practice. Just as non-religious man does not always understand religious man’s cosmology. Lia Lee’s family struggled to negotiate a balance between the demands of their traditional beliefs and modern medicine. Lia’s parents and her doctors wanted the best for her, but their central ideas of what caused her illness and how to treat it could not have been more different. To the Lees, Lia’s seizures were both terrifying medical emergencies but also signs of spiritual connections. This dichotomy created tension between the Lees’ concern for the safety of their daughter and the belief that her seizures would provide her with a life of honor and the possibility of becoming a shaman. Lia 's soul had fled her body and become lost. But, also we learn that the Lee’s were unfamiliar with Western terminology associated with illness when doctors said, “an electrochemical storm inside Lia’s head had been stirred up by the misfiring of aberrant brain cells,” and caused her seizures (Fadiman, page 28). Both cosmological systems were correct …show more content…
The hospital to the Lees was not a sacred space, rather a place where someone goes to die. Fadiman states that Foua Lee wonders if things would have been different in Laos (Fadiman, page 258). The administration of medicine to Lia was supposed to become “ritual.” But, this wasn’t the creation of sacred time through ritual and myth to the Lees; rather it was procedural clock work. Many things were missed during her time at the hospital. The therapeutic myth was never actualized and used by Lia’s doctors, only medical procedure. As seen by the Hmong, Lia Lee was sick from being out of balance and there was no one spiritually to re-orient her. This nostalgia was never recovered when myth was never applied. There was a sense of wholly unbalance as the therapeutic triangle was missing the crucial interaction between the healer (doctor) and the community (Lia’s

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