The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures - Anne Fadiman Having now finished the book, I know Lia's fate. You must read the book to find out. No spoilers here!

It is important to note that this book should be read by those not only interested in anthropology and how medical practices could/should be improved, but also those wanting to learn more about the Silent War in Laos. So many have been written about the war in Vietnam and so few about that in Laos.

How do you teach doctors to feel empathy and love for their patients? Physical contact is one quick trick. And how many doctors look you in the eye? We all know when a doctor is really communicating with us honestly. One doctor said she simply could not follow all the "cultural rules" that were necessary when communicating with the Hmongs....but they did feel her sincerity. She explained that the Hmong patients knew she was American and thus would be lenient. Body language says a lot. If we care, really care, that message gets across most cultural divides. Empathy has a therapeutic effect. But it sure helps if we make sure doctors don't have 33 hour shifts and access to interpreters.


Through page 148: This is VERY hard for me to read...... To clarify: I am scared to death when I enter a hospital. Everything always goes wrong. My own fears/experiences clearly augment my empathy for Lia.

Nevertheless, this is a book that needs to be read by everyone.

I HAD to take a breather from the book, to write this. I felt physically ill. Writing gives me some distance.

On an intellectual level, reading this after The Sacred Willow: Four Generations in the Life of a Vietnamese Family is just perfect. The themes intersect.

Although Fadiman's skills are top notch, I must note that I am not completely sure the problem is only cultural. All people misunderstand each other in tense situations, even those of the same culture. I would also like to state that sometimes medicine fails. We, as patients, have a hard time accepting this. I do not know, at this point what will happen to Lia...... but we must also accept that there is not a medical solution to every problem. Will Lia die? I don't know. I think if she dies, there is not one culprit. Cultural misunderstanding has played in, definitely, but also medical science today is not full-proof and doctors are only human. Even the best make mistakes. These are my thoughts as I read this wonderful book.