The spirit catches you and you fall down book review

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the spirit catches you and you fall down book review

THE SPIRIT CATCHES YOU AND YOU FALL DOWN by Anne Fadiman | Kirkus Reviews

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Published 01.01.2019

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One of their daughters, Lia Lee, suffers from severe epilepsy, and Fadiman covers the terrible struggles the family endures in dealing with her illness in the American medical system of the s.

Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

In the standard scenario of cultural collision, a Western rationalist -- a missionary doctor, say, or an explorer -- travels far away to a society of strange customs and tries to convert it to a different system of belief, with results that are sometimes comic, sometimes tragic. There is, for example, the story of the American missionary in China who showed movies of grotesquely enlarged flies, trying to convince the local people of the need to exterminate them. The local response: the flies in America, as big as tigers, are terrifying and dangerous, but here in China the flies are very small and harmless. In ''The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down,'' Anne Fadiman writes of a reverse situation, showing what can happen when the bearers of an animist, nonrationalist, nonscientific culture come to the United States and collide with local customs and assumptions. Fadiman, a freelance writer who was recently named editor of the journal The American Scholar, describes the rich and absorbing case of a family of Hmong refugees in Merced, Calif. The family, whose surname is Lee, have a severely epileptic baby daughter, Lia.

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In the minds of many of its most fairminded and supportive critics, the greatest challenge faced by Western medicine as it evaluates itself in the fading days of the twentieth century is not one that can be overcome in laboratories of immunology, genetics, or microbiology, or in the thinktanks of health care planners. It must be met at the bedsides of the sick.

By Anne Fadiman. It is the tale of an immigrant child whose family went in one generation from traditional tribal life in the war-torn mountains of Laos to a bustling existence in the town of Merced in the fertile San Joaquin Valley of California. This was a historic transition, and this child's story is in many ways her people's tale in microcosm -- and taken to an extreme. It is a tale of culture clashes, fear and grief in the face of change, parental love, her doctors' sense of duty, and misperceptions compounded daily until they became colossal misunderstandings. It has no heroes or villains, but it has an abundance of innocent suffering, and it most certainly does have a moral.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Ángela M. says:

    Thank you!

  2. Diagregesen1968 says:

    A review of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

  3. Dominique S. says:

    When two divergent cultures collide, unbridgeable gaps of language, religion, social customs may remain between them. This poignant account by Fadiman.

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