Anthony Berger's Reviews > The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
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Jul 29, 11


An illustrious and insufferably disturbing tale that follows the arduous tribulations of an immigrant Hmong family stuck in the profoundly unfamiliar American healthcare system. Lia Lee, a little girl with severe epilepsy (Quag dab pay (The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down)) is subjected to an ever-changing battery of barbiturates and anti-convulsants. Her parents, who fundamentally believe these medications are making their daughter worse (not better), refuse to provide the prescribed dosages; on top of which the perpetual revamping of her regimen confuses Lia's parents. Lia's parents, who love their daughter enormously, are subjected to the removal of their daughter by Child Protective Services and an unrelenting deaf ear from the American medical community. Fadiman's investigation exposed a saddening and unacceptable component of America's healthcare system: unabashed cultural insensitivity. This story serves as a cautionary tale that no matter the difficulties inherent in dealing with those of a culture different than our own, we must do everything in our power to find common ground, lest Lia's story repeat innumerably.
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