The Difference in Culture in Anne Fadman´s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
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Around the world, cultures have always had their own way of explaining the unknowable and answering the questionable. Rarely will any two people completely agree on what is normal and what is not. Anne Fadiman's book peers into this from a medical standpoint. "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down," identifies the differences and challenges presented when differing cultural perceptions of disease and their treatments collide. She explores the conflicts that arise when a Hmong child named Lia Lee is diagnosed with severe epilepsy after her family immigrates to California from their home near Laos. The Hmong culture does not recognize epilepsy as a disease that needs to be stopped, so they do not follow the American medical treatment recommendations. Lack of understanding and an initial unwillingness to compromise on both sides ultimately impacts the child's health. Lia’s health eventually deteriorates to the point that she is left in a vegetative state. The reader is left with the questions like, “who is to blame,” “could this have been prevented,” and “where did things go wrong?” The answers are officially inconclusive but Fadiman’s book surely shows a glimpse into the vast differences two cultures can have in what is considered to be mentally and physically healthy as well as their style of treatments.
According to the World Health Organization, health is officially described as ”a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence