The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (Book Review Sample)
The book is : Fadiman, Anne. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (1997) F
History and Cultures of Southeast Asia
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down Essay Questions
Please type and single-space your responses to the following questions, clearly labeling the question being addressed and utilizing standard margins and a 12-point font. Your responses Include a citation (any standard format is fine) if you are: a) referring to information gleaned from outside of the Fadiman text or; b) using a direct quotation from any source. Responses getting high marks will demonstrate the following characteristics: a thorough treatment of the issues raised in the question, well written, tight organization, and thoughtful.
1. Discuss the central conflict of the book, i.e., the clash between the culture of the Hmong and the culture of ‘western biomedicine.’ Why did the Lees act as they did regarding Lia Lee’s condition? Why did her doctors act as they did? How did their (both the Lees’ and the doctors’) attitudes and actions reflect their underlying cultural beliefs regarding the body, wellness, illness, and healing?
(~ 1/2 page)
2. Discuss at least three (3) aspects of Hmong culture that struck you as particularly interesting or unusual. Hmong culture has often been viewed by non-Hmong Americans as ‘backward’; the attitude is typically, ‘they (the Hmong) need to learn our (mainstream U.S) ways.’ Taking the opposite approach, what lessons do you think the Hmong could teach mainstream U.S. society? (~1/2 page)
3. Towards the end of the book (pg. 259) Fadiman poses the question “Was the gulf [between the Lees and their doctors] unbridgeable?” What do you think? Reflect on the ‘eight questions’ developed by Arthur Kleinman and his comments on page 261 in regards to this question. (~1/2 page)
4. What did you learn from this book? (i.e, discuss a few aspects or issues that particularly interested, surprised, or provoked you). (~1/2 page)
Book review: The spirit catches you and you fall down:
A] Discuss the central conflict of the book, i.e., the clash between the culture of the Hmong and the culture of ‘western biomedicine.’ Why did the Lees act as they did regarding Lia Lee’s condition? Why did her doctors act as they did? How did their (both the Lees’ and the doctors’) attitudes and actions reflect their underlying cultural beliefs regarding the body, wellness, illness, and healing?
There is a conflict between Lia Lee’s parents and the medical doctors’ on the best remedy to treat the epileptic episodes suffered by Lia Lee. The family believed that the genesis of Lia’s body reaction was experiencing noise that led to her soul leaving her body. As such, it is both a spiritual and medical issue to the Lee family, with their traditions seen as being suited to improve Lia’s health condition. The use of complementary and alternative medicine and appeasing the spirits is seen as a necessary intervention. Nonetheless, the Hmong are also undecided on the best course of action, since ‘Qaug Dab Peg’ (epilepsy) could represent danger and peculiarity (Fadiman, 1997).
The doctors were schooled to use scientific data, and they followed these recommendations on how to treat patients with epilepsy without explaining to the patient’s family how conventional medicine would be beneficial. There was miscommunication since the doctors expected patient compliance, even when they did not seek to understand the cultural background of the Lee family. As such, there was an assumption that what the doctors instructed Lee’s parents to give the dosages would be followed strictly. Furthermore, the doctors focused on controlling, healing and preventing further recurrence of epilepsy ignoring the spiritual dimension to the condition among the Hmong people.
For the Lee family, soul loss explains why people get seek as are other Hmong people who believe that the shaman then advises the family on the right course of action after performing a ceremony. On the other hand, the doctors believe that conventional medicine is the answer to managing epilepsy based on clinical trials and research on the condition. Both the Lee family and the doctors have divergent views about how to handle Lia’s condition. Additionally, traditional systems like among the Hmong people typically require that interventions be undertaken for prolonged periods of time (Putsch, & Joyce, 1990).
B] Towards the end of the book (pg. 259) Fadiman poses the question “Was the gulf [between the Lees and their doctors] unbridgeable?” What do you think? Reflect on the ‘eight questions’ developed by Arthur Kleinman and his comments on page 261 in regards to this question.
Fadiman (1997) supposes that it is not the Lee’s family fault, nor the doctor’s that Lia’s treatment is ineffective since, as there is a cultural gap that needs to be bridged. Kleimamn highlights on the need to understand how a specific sickness stated in the eyes and minds of a victim’s family. This gives a proper background to choose an intervention that is most suitable, and it is probable that the cultural gulf would have been bridged by integrating aspects of the Hmong’s culture with conventional medicine. Patients may have different views on medical in...
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