I’m sure many of my followers have already read The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Published in 1997, it won the National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction and has become a commonly assigned book for college students.
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is a story of culture clash. Lia Lee, the daughter of Hmong immigrants, is diagnosed with epilepsy as a baby. Her illness is complicated by the conflict between Western medicine and her family’s shamanistic beliefs. Both sides want Lia to get better but cultural misunderstandings stymie her treatment.
Although this is a medical anthropology rather than a history, Anne Fadiman gives the reader a background in Hmong culture and the historic events that influenced Hmong immigration. Lia was born in 1982 and there has since been an increased focus on cultural competency in healthcare, making The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down something of a medical history in the 15 years since its publication.
While at first glance The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down may seem like a very specialized book, it has relevance to anyone in a culturally diverse environment.
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down on Amazon