“The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down’’ by Anne Fadiman represents true story of the epileptic Hmong girl and her family displaced from China to the USA. She suffers severe grand mal seizures and eventually becomes vegetative for the rest of her life. Lia Lee’s story was a poignant example that emphasizes the cultural barriers between modern and traditional cultures through their approaches to the life, which results in complete destruction of her brain. The Lees favored traditional treatment that conflicted with the doctors’ treatment by medications.
Through conscious ignorance of the proper combined treatment and so-called compliance, it becomes the basis of a tug-of-war for Lia’s life between her doctors and her parents resulting in Lia’s vegetative state. Fadiman uses this conflict as the reflection of the conflict between Western and Eastern medicine and inability to find a compromise in general due to the cultural differences. The author succeeded to represent colliding of the cultures through the characters such as Dang Moua and in the same time to represent primitive culture, unable to compromise, through Foua and Nao Kao.
Lia’s condition signifies the result of the conflict and inability to fully understand different cultures and their customs and tradition. Topic #1: In this paper I will discuss the acculturation of Hmong people in United States and how this process takes place based on the previous research and investigations. Acculturation is a process of adjusting to and adopting the culture different from your own (Matsumoto, 2007). Usually, immigrants and ethnic minorities are facing this process since they are changing either the environment they live in or the life style they were having in the culture they were enculturated in.
Example of many Hmong (elderly) people not speaking English after many years spent in United States clearly represents that acculturation does not necessarily happen if the person lives in a culture different from his own. Topic #2: My second topic is concerning the medicine and health system in Hmong people and how it differs from the health system most of us got used on. As it was presented in the book “The spirit catches you and you fall down” medical system is extremely different, almost contrasting and their way of dealing with health issues.
Traditional versus modern method in coping with illnesses is cross-cultural representativeness of different cultures. According to the World Health Organization (1948) health is ‘…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. ’ Traditional, indigenous healing preformed by Hmongs is comparatively different from Western health system, but taking this as an example enables us to see how different cultures define us and affect us.