Cultural Differences Often Impedes Progress  Book Report

Excerpt from Book Report :

Both healers could learn how to incorporate techniques that may be different from their respective cultures into how they treat medical conditions.

Ultimately Lia was put into foster care because the doctor believed that the parents were not caring for her properly. Lia's foster parents were Dee and to Korda. They had children of their own and wanted to care for Lia. Lia needed a great deal of care and affection and her foster mother gave her this affection even to the point of breast feeding Lia. I was not surprised at the level of affection; I was somewhat surprised that the foster mother breast fed Lia right along with her biological child. The foster parents did not belittle the Lees. Te foster parents tried to understand the Lee's perspective on medical care but they also understood the perspective of the American doctors and the fact that Lia needed to receive her medications. Although the Kordas were following the medical regiments prescribed by the doctors, her conditioned worsened. Ultimately the Kordas recommended that Lia be returned to her parents because they believed that being away from them was making her even sicker. This belief goes back to the belief that the Hmong have the spiritual condition of a person can have a profound impact on their physical condition. Ultimately it seemed that removing Lia from her parents did more harm than good and the Kordas recognized that a mistake had been made.

The social worker was able to garner the trust of the Lees because she was patient and took time to listen and understand their perspective. The social workers way of communicating with the Lees made them more comfortable and decreased their fears. This type of patience was not present with the other Americans instead they were frustrated and there was a great deal of tension. It should also be noted that the social worker was removed from having to deal with administering medical care so there was a different perspective that the social worker could take.

Even though Lia is extremely young and cannot speak for herself, I feel tha the author really captured Lia's voice and spirit. Lia probably just wanted to be well; this is the sentiment that is derived from the book. A great deal of what happened to her was out of her control. She did not choose to be sick, she didn't choose her medical treatment, and she didn't choose to be taken away from her parents. All of these things had a profound effect on Lia's ability to function as a normal child. Even though Lia could not speak for herself she is obviously a person with value. Afterall the whole book was about trying to increase her quality of life and how to save her life. Lias Parents, the Kordas and all of the medical perfessionals believed her life to be of value. Even though the medical professionals were frustrated with the way her treatment was going you still got the feeling that they wanted her to be well. The doctor who got child protective services involved also believed that it was the right thing to do and the only way that Lia's life could be saved. A great deal of energy was expended to try and make Lia well because she was important and valuable.

Overall this book demonstrates the serious problems that arise when cultures clash and people of different cultures do not know how to compromise. The book echoes the idea that there was some truth to both cultures as it relates to the administering of healthcare. The Hmong's cultures gentle way of dealing with patients and their relatives is something that American doctors can learn from. The Hmong culture emphasizes direct contact and gentle response to questions and reactions. Sometimes American culture is so fast paced and so driven by how quickly one can get results that it does not take into consideration the needs of the whole person. On the other hand, the Hmong culture could learn to be more aggressive in the way that bodily ailments are treated.


Fadiman a. (1998) the spirit catches you and you fall down: a Hmong child, her American doctors, and…

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