Essay on The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down
Dec. 1, 2016
“The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” is one of the many cases that exemplify the barriers and obstacles people from distinct cultures encounter due to their ethnocentrism and lack of cultural relativism. After escaping to the U.S., a place completely different from what they called home, the Lees had to adapt and place their trust on strangers (to save their daughter) who viewed a condition with spiritual origin to the Hmong as a neurological disorder that had to be stopped rather than controlled. As a result, treating Lia’s epilepsy caused contradictory approaches between Lia’s parents and the Western doctors as to how to treat the Hmong child. Anne Fadiman, author of the book, takes an anthropological standpoint in Lia Lee’s case by integrating herself in both cultures and describing the perspectives and approaches of the Hmong and Western doctors all while illustrating their culture and belief system as the underlying source for which they based their decisions and emotions on.
As mentioned in the novel, Lia’s parents regarded their daughter’s epilepsy as qaug dab peg, a case in which the soul is lost creating potential for the individual to become a prestigious shaman. Contrary to deeming Lia’s conditions as a spiritual blessing, American doctors perceived it as an extreme hazard to the health and development of the toddler. While Foua and Kao looked for answers in their animistic beliefs, Neil and Peggy turned to…