March 1, 2011
Divine Calling or Serious Disorder
Treatment is care provided to improve a situation, especially medical procedures or applications that are intended to relieve illness or injury. In the Hmong society, people go to a txiv neeb, a shaman, who is believed to be a “person with a healing spirit” (Fadiman, 1997, p. 21) to cure their illnesses. A txiv neeb knows that to cure an illness you must treat the soul, in addition to the body. This is important to the Hmong because in their society the soul has a great deal of importance. In Anne Fadiman`s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, the Lees, a family of Hmong refugees from Laos, are placed in a difficult situation when their three month old daughter, Lia, is diagnosed with epilepsy at Merced Community Medical Center (MCMC). Due to a language barrier her parents, Foua and Noa Kao, find themselves not following the treatment their daughter is recommended from Doctors because of miscommunication of medicine dosages and a series of conflicts with Hmong beliefs, which ultimately leads Lia`s epilepsy to worsen. To her parents the crisis was the treatment, not the epilepsy because of their cultural beliefs and history in regard to epilepsy.
The Hmong have a primitive culture that includes many taboos toward their way of living. For example, once a Hmong woman became pregnant there were things she needed to pay close attention to food cravings or else her baby could be born with an extra finger or toe or have a lumpy head. A woman must also give birth in her own house or one of her husband’s cousins or else a dab might injure her. (Fadiman, p. 4) A dab is an evil spirit who steals souls. A dab sometimes steals babies’ souls if it hears someone say aloud that the baby is pretty or if the baby is not loved enough by its parent (Fadiman, p. 10) . To prevent a dab from stealing someone’s soul the Hmong perform a hub plug, or a soul calling ritual, three days...