The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures

Lia Lee was born in 1982 to a family of recent Hmong immigrants, and soon developed symptoms of epilepsy. By 1988 she was living at home but was brain dead after a tragic cycle of misunderstanding, over-medication, and culture clash: "What the doctors viewed as clinical efficiency the Hmong viewed as frosty arrogance." The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is a tragedy of Shakespearean dimensions, written with the deepest of human feeling. Sherwin Nuland said of the account, "There are no villains in Fadiman's tale, just as there are no heroes. People are presented as she saw them, in their humility and their frailty—and their nobility.

Title:The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780374525644
Format Type:

    The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures Reviews

  • Matt

    If nothing else can be said about this book, it should be said that it will cause a reaction. Most books are a monologue. The author is telling you something and you listen. Anne Fadiman’s book is s...

  • Lisa Vegan

    I knew a little about this case, and before I read the book, I was certain I’d feel infuriated with the Hmong family and feel nothing but disrespect for them, and would side with the American side, ...

  • Inder

    This is the heartbreaking story of Lia, a Hmong girl with epilepsy in Merced. It is intended to be an ethnography, describing two different cultural approaches to Lia's sickness: her Hmong parents' an...

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)

    What an incredible read! A clash of Western medicine with Hmong culture, exasperated by a lack of translators, cultural understanding, and education on both sides. Anne Fadiman shows how the situation...

  • Teresa

    A book like this one should be required reading for anyone who lives in a community of multicultural members, and nowadays that's probably just about everyone. Sadly, and not surprisingly, those who w...

  • Diane

    This is an impressive work! "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down" is a nonfiction book I've been meaning to read for years, and I'm glad I finally made time for it. Anne Fadiman writes about the ...

  • Eric

    This is one of the best books I've read. I guess it would be considered part of the medical anthropology genre, but it's so compelling that it sheds that very dry, nerdly-sounding label. This was reco...

  • Mmars

    There are so many valuable aspects to this book it's hard to decide what to mention. Having just learned that Lia, the subject of the book, passed away within the last week I'd like to express sheer a...

  • Beverly

    In Hmong culture they revere their children so much, it is wonderful. This little girl was her parent's favorite and they believed her epilepsy was a special gift that made her more in tune with the s...

  • Hamad

    The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down may read like a documentary (thanks to Fadiman’s journalistic background), but it is really an introspection on the western system of medicine and science. W...