Essay The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

3417 Words Oct 1st, 2010 14 Pages
Cross-Cultural Family Assessment
Stephanie Boardman
University of Southern Maine

1. The client system, in this case the Lee family, defines Lia’s seizures as both a spiritual and physical ailment. According to Fadiman (1997), “…the noise of the door had been so profoundly frightening that her soul had fled her body and become lost. They recognized the resulting symptoms as qaug dab peg, which means ‘the spirit catches you and you fall down’”(p.20). To the Lee family, Lia’s condition was as revered as it was frightening. While a person with qaug dab peg was traditionally held in high esteem in the Hmong culture, it was also terrifying enough that the Lee’s rushed Lia to the emergency room more than once in the first few months
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Foua and Nao Kao believed that her condition was probably beyond the reach of spiritual healing…And there was still the faintest flicker of a chance, not altogether extinguished even after years of failed sacrifices, that Lia’s soul would be found after all, that the dabs who were keeping it would accept the pig’s soul in its stead, and that she would be restored to health. (p. 283) 4. There were many people affected by the Lia’s seizures and the cultural clashes that ensued. I will focus on the two that seemed most significant. The first people who were affected were her family, namely her parents. Nao Kao and Foua were obviously distressed that their youngest daughter was having these seizures. The Hmong in general are excellent parents, providing their children with an extraordinary amount of love and attention (Fadiman, 1997, p. 22) and I can’t even imagine the amount of grief the Lees dealt with as they watched Lia’s soul slip away during those several tumultuous years of her life. Because the Lees blamed the medical system for the end result of Lia’s vegetative state, they became increasingly angry people, Nao Kao in particular. Fadiman tells us how angry he was several times in the book, angry enough to try to steal Lia away from the hospital (p. 213). While Foua more evenly tempered than her husband, she did show severe signs of depression and even suicide when Lia was first taken away from them and placed in