The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures Paperback – Sep 30 1998
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Lia Lee was born in 1981 to a family of recent Hmong immigrants, and soon developed symptoms of epilepsy. By 1988 she was living at home but was brain dead after a tragic cycle of misunderstanding, overmedication, and culture clash: "What the doctors viewed as clinical efficiency the Hmong viewed as frosty arrogance." The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is a tragedy of Shakespearean dimensions, written with the deepest of human feeling. Sherwin Nuland said of the account, "There are no villains in Fadiman's tale, just as there are no heroes. People are presented as she saw them, in their humility and their frailty--and their nobility." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
YA?A compelling anthropological study. The Hmong people in America are mainly refugee families who supported the CIA militaristic efforts in Laos. They are a clannish group with a firmly established culture that combines issues of health care with a deep spirituality that may be deemed primitive by Western standards. In Merced, CA, which has a large Hmong community, Lia Lee was born, the 13th child in a family coping with their plunge into a modern and mechanized way of life. The child suffered an initial seizure at the age of three months. Her family attributed it to the slamming of the front door by an older sister. They felt the fright had caused the baby's soul to flee her body and become lost to a malignant spirit. The report of the family's attempts to cure Lia through shamanistic intervention and the home sacrifices of pigs and chickens is balanced by the intervention of the medical community that insisted upon the removal of the child from deeply loving parents with disastrous results. This compassionate and understanding account fairly represents the positions of all the parties involved. The suspense of the child's precarious health, the understanding characterization of the parents and doctors, and especially the insights into Hmong culture make this a very worthwhile read.?Frances Reiher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
If Lia Lee had been born in the highlands of northwest Laos, where her parents and twelve of her brothers and sisters were born, her mother would have squatted on the floor of the house that her father had built from ax-hewn planks thatched with bamboo and grass. Read the first page
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Top Customer Reviews
Having said that, I enjoyed this book because it does the impossible. Fadiman is able to make the reader better understand the traditional Hmong culture, a culture that seems irrational and is opposite of western culture. It doesn't mean that you will agree with the Hmong culture but you will better understand it, including why the family did/did not do certain things to help their daughter who had epilepsy. I also believe that this book is important for those who work with the public because it promotes sensitivity towards other cultures. The doctors and the family had the very best intentions for the daughter who had epilepsy but the cultural barriers were just too much.
For a person my age, I'm not sure I would recomend this book. I'm sure they would learn from in, but not sure they would find this as a fun read. The only reason I would of ever read this book is because I had to for my class. But if people want to learn, and have an alright time doing it, I would recomend this book. But for people who like fiction, I don't think that you'll like this at all.
For Adults, I would recomend this book to anyone. It really is like nothing that I've ever read before. Which is probably because I've never really written anything like this before. As I said before, this book would be great for anyone interested in human nature. These two cultures knew nothing about eachother, but just because of the barrier the first thing that they did was not have any respect for eachother. (This has to be 500 words....)
This is a really well written book, but I think that I gave it four stars instead of 5 because at times it got a little bit boring. Maybe this is because I'm not really that mature, but I fell that the writer knew too much information about the topic. And gave it all to us. Sometimes when I was reading it felt like I was being force fed information. Like why do I need to know this?Read more ›
It taught me that the things that I would normally find weird or wrong all have a lot of meaning behind them and that no one has the right to judge too quickly. The people in Merced didn't take the time to get to know any of the Hmong people and understand their way of life. If the locals, especially the doctor residents, took the time to understand why the Hmong did what they did, there wouldn't be so many misunderstandings between the two cultures. In Chapter 17 (titled "The Eight Questions"), a psychiatrist and medical anthropologist named Arthur Kleinman offers eight simple questions that doctors should ask their patient about what they thought their sickness was. Some of the questions are: What sickness does the patient have? How did they get this sickness? I think this was a smart thing for someone to make up to help the doctors understand where their patients are coming from. Most of the time the nurses and resident doctors think their patients are stupid and are bad at taking care of themselves and their families, when in reality, their patients are only doing what they know will help.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
After this ethnography/narrative about Hmong living in LA, you will never think the same again about cross cultural perspectives on health and healing again. Read morePublished on June 14 2013 by JVines
One of the best books I have read. An amazing analysis of one little girls journey of illness and care, one family's amazing story, one community's struggles to adapt and sruvive... Read morePublished on May 12 2011 by Edison Chen
Excellent book. A classic and a must for those working in the Healthcare field. Gives insights into cultural issues which influence the care experience.Published on Nov. 21 2010 by Anita Punamiya
As a student looking to go to medical school, I found this book to be an eye opening experience. It really points out the need for empathy for other cultures, languages and... Read morePublished on May 30 2004 by DeAnna F.
I may be too optimistic, but I've grown to believe that bigotry isn't always practiced by bad people, but often by good people ignorant of cultures other than their own. Read morePublished on May 2 2004 by Amazon Customer
This is such a beautifully-written, captivating, eye-opening book about a clash of two cultures: American and Hmong. Read morePublished on March 18 2004
This book is a must read. It is thought provoking, educational and hard to describe. I kept wanting to place judgement on the doctors, then I wanted to place judgement on The... Read morePublished on Feb. 23 2004 by C. Davidson
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