The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down Essay

3423 Words Sep 14th, 2010 14 Pages
Cross-Cultural Family Assessment
Stephanie Boardman
University of Southern Maine

1. The client system, in this case the Lee family, defines Lia’s seizures as both a spiritual and physical ailment. According to Fadiman (1997), “…the noise of the door had been so profoundly frightening that her soul had fled her body and become lost. They recognized the resulting symptoms as qaug dab peg, which means ‘the spirit catches you and you fall down’”(p.20). To the Lee family, Lia’s condition was as revered as it was frightening. While a person with qaug dab peg was traditionally held in high esteem in the Hmong culture, it was also terrifying enough that the Lee’s rushed Lia to the emergency room more than once in the first few months
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If anything, Lia became “her parents’ favorite, the child they considered most beautiful, the one who was dressed in the most exquisite garments” (Fadiman, 1997, p.23).
The doctors involved were also deeply affected, namely Neil Ernst and Peggy Philp, the two supervising pediatricians at MCMC who were also married to each other. The two were known for their “glacial unflappability” (Fadiman, 1997, p. 56). Referring to a Pediatric Clinic Note regarding the Lees inability (intentionally or otherwise) to give Lia her medicine, Fadiman (1997) tells us, “Neil said he could still remember the rage he had felt when he wrote it. He and Peggy…couldn’t remember a case that had made them feel this way. ‘I remember wanting to shake the parents so that they would understand,’ said Peggy” (p. 56). Even though they were incredibly frustrated with the situation and the Lees, they never gave up on Lia. Neil was on duty at the clinic when the Lees brought Lia in for a checkup after her grand mal seizure. He tells us, “That first visit was very significant for me…And what absolutely blew me away is that I, well I was afraid they were going to blame me for what happened, but the mother showed me compassion” (Fadiman, 1997, p. 213). Neil and Peggy seemed to live in this constant state of guilt, feeling like they were the ones to blame for the Lia’s outcome. 5. Because of the cultural clash between the Lees and the doctors, the Lees became even

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