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Refugees from Laos began immigrating to the United States in the 1970s Since then over 100000 Hmong have settled in the United States Many came because they felt they had no other option They could not return to their homes in Laos because they faced persecution and they had to leave the refugee camps in Thailand due to closure Anne Fadimans book The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down explores a Hmong family American health care and the disastrous encounters between the two disparate cultures Lia Lee born in 1981 developed symptoms of epilepsy However by 1988 Lia was brain dead after years of misunderstanding over-medication and culture clash Fadiman states that what the doctors saw as clinical professionalism the Lees viewed as arrogance and cold indifference Additionally Fadiman shows readers how each party blamed the other for Lias illness yet the assumptions and beliefs that each group brought to the doctor-patient interactions were never explored American doctors saw Lias epilepsy as a neurological abnormality but the Lees perceived Lias illness as a loss of her soul They believed only appeasement of the lost soul and the restoration of spiritual order would cure their daughter Although Lias parents and her doctors both wanted what was best for Lia lack of understanding led to tragedy Anne Fadimans book The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down reveals how the inability to communicate and the ignorance of cultural differences pr ohibited the Lees and the medical staff from forming the cohesion necessary to save Lias soul The field of Western medicine has a very distinct culture Medical students and nurses are socialized into this culture while they are in training Their view of clinical reality assumes that biological concerns are more basic real and clinically significant than psychological or sociological issues The biomedical viewpoint does not accept alternative forms of healing or other healers Western medicine is considered superior to other medical systems in the world
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