Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down Journal #2
In The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman, Lia Lee is a very sickly child, and is now unfortunately a “vegetable.” Much to the hospitals chagrin, they in fact are the reason why Lia is in a comatose state. The Lee’s argued with the doctors throughout Lia’s entire 4 years of medical strife with epilepsy about the medication and the way they were treating Lia. Fadiman juxtaposes the differences of the Hmong way of healing people: spiritually, and the American way: medicinally.
In chapter 18, Fadiman titles the chapter “The Life or the Soul”, the title portrays a serious debate throughout the reading; is the body or the soul of the person more important. The Hmong’s way of healing the sick, no matter what the sickness is, is spiritually. “Treatment Plan: The Neng called upon Neng spirits to effect a cure and release the pain… used a bowl of water to spray from the mouth over the infected area… spirits were offered payment… to release the pain and relieve the swelling… Result: Client got better after treatment.” (pg 270) Fadiman pulls the report summaries from the txiv neebs healings to convey that it is possible to heal someone spiritually rather than medicinally. In fact, Fadiman uses surprising diction in chapter 17, when Dr. Hutchinson admits the hospitals faults. “’Driving back to Merced, I was in a state of shock myself. I had known about Lia’s sepsis, but I had always assumed that her seizure disorder had been the root of the problem. The Lee’s were right after all, I thought, Lia’s medicine did make her sick!’”(pg 255) By using words/phrases such as: shock, right after all, did make her sick, Fadiman shows not only were the doctors surprised by the outcome of Lia’s life, but she herself was, too. It illustrates the idea that not ALL Western Medicine techniques are healthy for the problem. In this case, the best thing for Lia would have been to give her the anticonvulsants and that was...
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