Anne Fadiman evenhandedly presents a case between medical culture and the Hmong culture in her book, ‘The Spirit catches you and you fall down.’ The Spirit catches you and you fall down is an analogy that represents epilepsy in the Hmong world. Anne evenhandedly describes…
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I would answer respond ‘yes’ assumption that the author was evenhanded in her presentation of Hmong culture and medical culture.
The tumultuous history has greatly influenced the Hmong culture. Their fighting and fleeing from persecution which made them undergo a lot of torturous events such as their livers and kidneys being extracted from their bodies. In this case, their culture includes many folktales and beliefs that relate to these events. For instance, the Hmong believed that the American doctors were feeding on the liver, kidneys and hearts of Hmong patients when they die.
The Hmong’s view of medicine is opposite from the doctors’ concept. Western medicine is specialized and scientific. The Hmong perception of medicine is that life, death and life after death are interconnected. According to Anne, when Lia fainted, her parents assumed that her soul was frightened and thus fled from her body as a result (Fadiman, 28). The Hmong’s most important duty is to honour and conserve their religion. On the other hand, the doctor’s most important duties are to ensure the healing of a patient. This two aspects conflict when the doctor prescribes medicine for a Hmong patient and the Hmong patient chooses to ignore the doctor’s instructions because of religious and cultural values.
Doctors should understand that the Hmong belief is that diseases occur as a result of fugitive souls and can be cure by sacrifice of animal shamanism (Fadiman, 77). In the same way, the Hmong society should understand that doctors are professionally trained to handle medical issues. In this case, both parties may find a common ground to argue or relate thus find a solution to conflict between traditional culture and modern medicine.
Lia was eventually taken into foster care until she recovered fully. The foster care parents were amazed by Foua and Nao Kao decision of denying their daughter medical rights in regard to cultural beliefs
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