Bio&Soc205 Reading Response 10 Section 11 In The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down , Anne Fadiman uses a story of a young Hmong girl and her family’s history to encompass the theme of cross-cultural (mis)understanding. By use of narratives and interviews, discussing both the American perspective and the Hmong perspective of each situation, she shows the deep roots of medicine within culture and its effect on patients’ experiences with the unfamiliar western medicine. . In Lia Lee’s case, her parents recognize her epilepsy as a condition they refer to as “the spirit catches you and you fall down” (the “spirit” being the soul stealing deb ) (21). They believe that “your soul is like your shadow” and it must be returned with the help of a healing spirit, a neeb . In their mind, “the crisis [is] the treatment , not the epilepsy” (53). They feel that what the doctors are doing is intruding on their beliefs and is not a form of healing but a form of harm. Fadiman demonstrates that the stereotypical western physician with his “all head-no-
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