The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

by Anne Fadiman
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Lia Lee's physical condition worsened despite the efforts of her parents and social/health professionals that tried to save her. How did this tragedy happen? How, if at all, might it have been averted?

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In The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, four-year-old Hmong American Lia Lee enters a vegetative state following complications of epilepsy. Author Anne Fadiman investigates the complications from the perspectives of both allopathic medical specialists and the traditional Hmong belief system.

According to her doctors in California, Lee’s opportunity for a normal life depends on how compliant her parents will be with her care plan. The doctors suspect that Lee isn’t being given her prescribed anticonvulsants. Because the family doesn’t speak English, the hospital staff doesn’t know if their noncompliance is due to misunderstanding or willful neglect. They...

(The entire section contains 318 words.)

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