The Spirit Catches You, a Look at Qdp vs Epilepsy

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The collision of cultures is seen through out the story of Lia and her family. Starting in the beginning of Lia’s story the same piece of information was being interpreted by two different cultures in different ways. The Merced Hospital Staff believed Lia suffered from Epilepsy. They believed it translated into Qaug dab peg. What was misunderstood is that quag dab peg were not really perceived as the same thing in Hmong culture as Epilepsy is in western medicine,

In the Hmong culture, QDP is believed to be caused by a bad spirit called a dab. It is believed that dabs are responsible for stealing souls and making its victims sick. Epilepsy is recognized by western medicine as a serious neurological condition. Although Epilepsy and Quag dab peg may have the same physical symptoms, the symptoms are interpreted differently by each culture, making the condition two different illnesses requiring two different treatments.

In Hmong culture, QDP is perceived as an illness with honor. Seizures are thought of to be evidence that the one experiencing them has powers to perceive things that others can not see. Someone suffering from the symptoms of QDP are also thought of to be able to facilitate their entry into trance, which is required for them to journey into the unseen realm. QDP is treated through shamanic rituals performed by a txiv neeb. A txiv neeb only treats their patients on a metaphysical plane. In Lia’s case rituals were often performed to lure her soul back to her. A Txiv need would place a bowl of sacred water in Lia’s room in hopes that her soul would return. Txiv neeb would also sacrifice pigs in the Lee’s apartment and place string on Lia’s wrists to keep the soul from escaping.

Doctors and txiv needs are only similar in the fact that they both make house calls. A doctors job is to treat the physical symptoms of a patient. In Lia’s case, her epileptic seizures were treated with different medications such Dilantin and Phenobarbital. The...
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