The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction
When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-...more
Don't read any further unless you don't mind knowing the basic story told in this book (there are no spoilers, since this is not a book with a surprise ending, but if you want to keep a completely open mind, stop now) ...
I have wavered between four and five stars for this on ...more
It's an eye-opener on cross-cultural issues, especially those in the medical field, but also in the religious, as the Hmong don't distinguish between the two. In understandable and compelling language ...more
The story is of the treatment of the epileptic child of a Hmong immigrant family in the American health system. The issue is the clash of cultures and the confusing and heartbreaking results. And the takeaway lesson is in how to ...more
More largely, this is the story of a clash between western and eastern cultures, a communication lapse that ultimately ended up hurting the parents of this little girl very profoundly.
Along with a large influx of Hmong, Lia lived in Merced, CA when she experienced her first seizures. The Hmong and their language and their culture were yet virtually unknown and entirely misunderst ...more
The title of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is the literal translation of the Hmong words for epilepsy. All doctors know about epilepsy; virtually none know about the Hmong people. They are an ethnic group who lived in China for hundreds of years.
The Hmong have often been thought of as "outsiders." Over the centuries they have resisted taming by various domineering governments and oppressors. ...more
I didn't know anything about Hmong culture and now I do. This book also taught me about the American medical system - it looks strange when you step back.
It would have been a good book for me to read when I was in Japan, too, because it kind of opened me up to the idea that people of other cultures can really be sooo different. It's ...more
But that's not really the point of Fadiman's book: she doesn't condemn anyone, and, in fact, she points out that ...more
Lia Lee's parents immigrated to this country in the early 1980s from Laos. They were of the Hmong culture, a people who inhabited mountaintops and all they wanted was to be left alone. During the war they sided with the Americans. Their men joined the military some even becoming pilots. When the war was lost, they had to leave their country or die. They were promised a place in ...more
Though doctors today more often take courses in cross-cultural awareness in med school, it's still just a small portion of their training, if they get it all. This book is highly rel ...more
The 150,000 Hmong refugees who came to the United States in the late 1970s arrived in a country and culture that could not have been more foreign to them. The Lee family had escaped their native village in the hills of Laos and settled in Merced California. In July 1982 Foua Yang gave birth to her fourteenth child; Foua and her husband Nao Kao Lee would name the little girl Lia. She was a loved child, tenderly cared ...more
In 1981, after relocating to Merced, California, Lia Lee was born to a Hmong refugee family, from Laos.. She quickly developed severe epilepsy. By 1988, she was living at home, brain-dead. The events that led up to this tragedy: the misunderstandings, the culture clashes and flawed decisions, are the backbone of this story. Of course, the book goes much deeper, as Fadiman becomes involved wit ...more
Lia Lee and her family were refugees living in Merced, CA when the spirit first caught Lia in this wa ...more
It is important to note that this book should be read by those not only interested in anthropology and how medical practices could/should be improved, but also those wanting to learn more about the Silent War in Laos. So many have been written about the war in Vietnam and so few about that in Laos.
How do you teach doctors to feel empathy and love for their patients? Physical contact is one quick ...more
The book focuses on the clash between Hmong culture and traditional western medicine. The story is of one little girl ...more
While there are times that it can be dense, it is very well written. Ms. Fadiman writes about the Hmong with incredible gravitas and emotionality. I don't know how she did it but, by the time I finished the book I was all teary. Sure, it could be that I haven't slept in days (finals) but I think it's because of how the s ...more
|As a pharmacist, what surprised you most in this book?||1||5||Jan 27, 2019 07:38AM|
|As a health care provider, what was your biggest take away from this book?||1||4||Jan 27, 2019 07:36AM|