Structural Causes That Bring About Cultural Insensitivity


The Spirit Catches Youand You Fall Down&nbspthis book explains the clash between two cultures, the Hmongrefugees and American Biomedical system culture. The story revolvesaround two leading characters Peggy Philp and Neil Ernst, who are themain doctors in Lia, s case. Lia suffers from epilepsy a conditionreferred to by her community as the spirit catches you, and you falldown. In American culture, the doctor knows what best for thepatient. However, Lia’s parent Nao Kao Lee and Foua are toostubborn. According to them, no culture is superior to theirs. Thetheme that clearly appears in this story is structural causes thatbring about cultural insensitivity.&nbsp

The strength and weakness of this thesis, the writer in support ofthe doctor’s decision seems to agree that the doctor always knowswhat is best for the patient. According to the doctors, in order toprevent Lias’s condition from progressing, she needs to receivegood care (Fadiman, 2012). This being a strong point is weakened bythe fact that the doctors as much as they want Lia’s parent toaccept that they know what best for her are not willing to accept theHmong people culture.&nbsp

Being culturally insensitive is seen through the Peggy and Neil, whoare reluctant to accept cultural diversity. There is just one way totreat Lia and that through biomedicine, this is according to thedoctors. Nevertheless, I disagree with this because the biomedicinecan at most treat the body while as the spirit too ought to betreated. Thus, while treating Lia her people culture ought to havebeen put into consideration rather than just decide to put her infoster care.&nbsp

The aspect of the argument of the argument that I found strong is thefact that culture matters and people diversity ought to be respected.The Hmong believed that the body was connected to religion and thatin balance of the universe is what caused the illness. The doctorignored this supporting their scientific views and predicted that thechild would live for a few days and die, but she survived for manyyears.&nbsp

To sum up, Piggy and Neil are seen as agents of culturalinsensitivity in this story, however, as we come to learn later it isthe American medical system structure that causes this. People oughtto be taught to respect cultural diversity at medical school.&nbsp&nbsp


Fadiman, A. (2012). The spirit catches you and you fall down: AHmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures.