Literature Study GuidesThe Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down | Study Guide

Anne Fadiman

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Course Hero. "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down Study Guide." Course Hero. 7 June 2019. Web. 17 June 2019. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Spirit-Catches-You-and-You-Fall-Down/>.

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Course Hero. (2019, June 7). The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 17, 2019, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Spirit-Catches-You-and-You-Fall-Down/

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Course Hero. "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down Study Guide." June 7, 2019. Accessed June 17, 2019. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Spirit-Catches-You-and-You-Fall-Down/.

Footnote

Course Hero, "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down Study Guide," June 7, 2019, accessed June 17, 2019, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Spirit-Catches-You-and-You-Fall-Down/.

Overview

Author

Anne Fadiman

Years Published

1997

Type

Nonfiction

Genre

History, Memoir, Nonfiction

At a Glance

In 1982 Lia Lee (1982–2012), a Hmong American infant, begins having seizures. Her American pediatricians eventually diagnose her with epilepsy—a neurological disorder. But Lia's parents Foua Yang and Nao Kao Lee, who practice traditional Hmong religious rituals, believe Lia's illness is caused by the loss of her soul. Lia's symptoms worsen over the years as conflict increases between the Lee parents and the doctors. Though Lia's doctors and her parents both want the best for her, language and cultural barriers foil understanding and cooperation. Reporter Anne Fadiman explores both sides of the crisis. Along the way she investigates the traumatic, resilient history of the Hmong people and their communities in the United States. Both a harrowing personal story and a landmark book in medical anthropology, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down inspired many Western physicians to prioritize cross-cultural understanding.

About the Title

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down tells the story of Lia Lee, a young Hmong American girl with epilepsy. In the Hmong language the term for epilepsy is qaug dab peg. The approximate English translation is "the spirit catches you and you fall down." In Hmong folklore a dab is an evil spirit that steals souls. Qaug means to fall over, and peg means to catch. The phrase indicates the way the Lees, a deeply spiritual Hmong American family, think of their daughter's illness. They believe her condition is caused by an evil spirit who steals her soul.

Summary

This study guide for Anne Fadiman's The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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