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Cultural Conflicts in Fadiman’s “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” Essay


Introduction

Interaction with the people of another culture, as it is known, is not always accompanied by mutual understanding and loyalty to each other. Fadiman in her rather famous book gives quite vivid examples of how disagreements can cause the death of a child. The case described by the author is a clear reflection of the situation where the two sides were not ready to compromise, which led to the tragedy.

Neglect of Reasonable Truths

A Chinese girl Lia looks like a personification of a unique personality that is different from most peers and is forced to experience severe consequences of her illness. One of the primary problems is that the parents of this heroine, knowing about her problems, refused to participate in the state treatment program, where qualified specialists could have taken care of the child. This approach probably became the principal cause of aggravation of the disease.

Certainly, Lia had a chance to survive. When people adequately assess the current situation, they are trying to do everything possible to save their child and to prevent any fatal consequences. Nevertheless, the cornerstone was the denial of obvious facts, when parents just refused to believe in the effectiveness of professional physicians. Perhaps, the practice of traditional medicine has the right to exist; however, it is possible only if the life of a child is not at stake. The rejection of evident truths leads to the fact that the situation can take a new turn, which is completely different from what people expect. If the girl’s parents had not believed in mystical powers, Lia would not have had to experience all those sufferings caused by epileptic seizures. It is not enough just to believe; it is important to be guided by common sense.

Intercultural Contradictions

Fadiman’s book is a rather good tool for teaching that the ignorance of reasonable solutions never leads to positive consequences. The supporters of two different fields of medicine were not able to agree among themselves about which treatment technique is better. Despite the assurances of experienced doctors, parents chose a different way, in their opinion, more correct. For example, when it was decided to take the child from the family, Lia’s parents were categorically against it. However, even when they managed to return the girl, they did not change their principles, as Fadiman writes. No beliefs yielded results, and the fact was that Lia spent most of her short life experiencing the anguish of epilepsy. The author mentions some of the prejudices of the Hmong regarding medicine and treatment characteristics and highlights that it is probably these false beliefs that caused the disagreement.

Therefore, before trying to convey certain ideas to the people of a different culture, it is necessary to think out a strategy of behavior carefully to convey rational thoughts to them. On the example of Lia, it is possible to conclude that the lack of mutual understanding, especially if it concerns a medical sphere, cannot be tolerated in any case. For me, as for a specialist working with deaf children, it is essential to realize that both my wards and their parents understand the importance of treatment and all those procedures that my colleagues and I practice.

Conclusions

If I had to face such a situation, being on the side of the supporters of modern medicine, I would make every possible effort to explain to the girl’s parents their delusions. No one has the right to treat a child’s life from a selfish point of view; sometimes, personal beliefs do not correspond to reasonable arguments. At the same time, the task of doctors is not only to control a patient’s condition but also to communicate with his or her relatives. That is why it is so important to establish an appropriate contact to avoid a situation similar to Lia’s problem.

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IvyPanda. (2021, January 12). Cultural Conflicts in Fadiman's "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down". Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/cultural-conflicts-in-fadimans-the-spirit-catches-you-and-you-fall-down/

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"Cultural Conflicts in Fadiman's "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down"." IvyPanda, 12 Jan. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/cultural-conflicts-in-fadimans-the-spirit-catches-you-and-you-fall-down/.

1. IvyPanda. "Cultural Conflicts in Fadiman's "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down"." January 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cultural-conflicts-in-fadimans-the-spirit-catches-you-and-you-fall-down/.


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IvyPanda. "Cultural Conflicts in Fadiman's "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down"." January 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cultural-conflicts-in-fadimans-the-spirit-catches-you-and-you-fall-down/.

References

IvyPanda. 2021. "Cultural Conflicts in Fadiman's "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down"." January 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cultural-conflicts-in-fadimans-the-spirit-catches-you-and-you-fall-down/.

References

IvyPanda. (2021) 'Cultural Conflicts in Fadiman's "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down"'. 12 January.

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