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The Spirit Catches You

Autor:   •  February 9, 2014  •  Essay  •  1,889 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,465 Views

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The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, is a true story about the life of Lia Lee, a Hmong child with epilepsy. The story is not as much about her illness, as it is about the cultural differences between Western and Eastern medicine and the importance of cultural awareness and sensitivity. In this sad account, Lia's care did not provide culturally sensitive healthcare, leading to her being in a vegetative state for life. This paper we will discuss the health and cultural issues faced by the Hmong and Lee family, how their background and cultural beliefs and customs affected their adaptation to the United States and influenced their feelings toward healthcare and healthcare providers as well as the importance of providing culturally sensitive healthcare. 

Medicine Was Religion. Religion Was Society. Society Was Medicine.

Over the centuries, Hmong fought against many people. Because of this, history Hmong provides several lessons to anyone who deals with them: they do not like to take orders; they do not like to lose; they would rather flee, fight, or die rather than surrender; they are not intimidated by being outnumbered; they are rarely persuaded that the customs of other cultures are superior; and they are capable of getting very angry (p17). With the Hmong cultural comes stories (folktale) in which they believe and stand by as a symbolic source of spiritual strength, as in the story of Shee Yee. Shee Yee was a healer and magician, also a txiv neeb (spiritual healer to the Hmong). He was a legend amongst the Hmong and a reminder that in the spiritual realm there is nothing or no one, no matter how big or small that can overtake you as long as you continue to fight or escape.

The Hmong background has was filled with war, persecution, migration and constantly having to assimilate, the Lee family's journey from Thailand, affected their adaptation to the United States; mainly because of the experience they encountered in the refugee camps. It was said that they were forbidden to practice their religion, they were robbed and beaten, and women were sexually exploited by Americans.

Hmong feelings toward healthcare were that they believed most common cause of illness was soul loss, and that the life-soul was the necessary for health and happiness. This belief is deeply rooted in the Hmong cultural belief from birth that the placenta is the first and finest garment and is the spiritual jacket for the soul. Rituals are done to bury the placenta. The placenta was such a significant part of the Hmong passage into the world and the ritual that followed it that it had to be buried a certain way, in a certain location and within a certain time. If the baby developed certain symptoms, it meant that something was wrong with the placenta in its place of burial (such as insects eating) and another ritual was performed to save it. When a Hmong


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