Essay about The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down

1421 Words Oct 20th, 2015 6 Pages
So many times we forget to ask why – a simple, yet profound question. Anne Fadiman’s poignant book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, delves into the tragic consequences that arise due to the result of cultural discord and misunderstanding. The book illustrates the story of Lia Lee, a young Hmong child who has been diagnosed with severe epilepsy. The stark contrast in beliefs, values, and cultures between Lia’s parents and those of the physicians tending to Lia eventually snowballed into a series of colossal misunderstandings that ultimately left Lia in a persistent vegetative state. Although both sides had Lia’s best interest in mind, the failure of Lia’s doctors to dig deeper into Lia’s story, background, and culture, in addition to the lack of proper communication, collaboration, and unity between the two sides led to Lia’s tragic demise.
Lia’s situation can be thought of in two different perspectives, depending on whether one is wearing the Hmong lens, or the Western Medicine lens. To Lia’s parents, when Lia was three months old, the sudden slamming of a door led the soul to leave her body. Qaug dab peg, otherwise known as “the spirit catches you and you fall down,” was a dangerous disease, but also an illness of distinction as it potentially gave Lia the power to perceive things normal people could not see. On the other hand, the Western Medicine explanation for Lia’s condition was epilepsy– a sporadic malfunction of the brain. The biological description that…

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