The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down Essay

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Anne Faidman’s novel The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is a narrative of an unfortunate, yet all too real incident of culture clash and western medicine. The novel follows the Lees, a Hmong family, who were displaced from their lives in Vietnam and move to Merced, California. Lia, the second youngest daughter of the Lee’s has what the Hmong call “qaug dab peg” which means “the spirit catches you and you fall down” or in western medicine what is known as epilepsy (Faidman 20). The novel provides insight into the challenges the family and doctors face to help Lia fight her illness as the two parties have opposing remedies, different belief systems, and a language barrier making communication between them virtually impossible.
Despite the limitations in communication one individual in the novel who is a
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The Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity is a useful way to examine Jeanine’s openness to the Lees and the effects it has on her communication ability. Along this scale, Jeanine would be placed at the adaptation level as she is willing to shift her perspective away from solely western culture and develops a frame of reference for Hmong culture (Milton 95). These characteristics are evident throughout the book. It is noted that Jeanine was the only American who asked the Lees what they thought the cause of Lia’s illness was. (Faidman 22) Although she disagrees with their reasoning and tries to explain to them the medical reason, she accepts their beliefs will not change (Faidman 23). Jeanine was also interested in participating in the Lees’ everyday lives, she learned the names of the Lee children and spent time with the family on a regular basis (113). She developed an empathy for the Lee family, which is a characteristic of the adaptation stage of the Developmental Model of Intercultural