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Medical Beliefs of the Hmong People Depicted in the Book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

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In Hmong’s, they have their own traditional beliefs in which they hardly ever alter due to a different atmosphere. Some of the Hmong beliefs are they prefer traditional medicine, are culturally active, host ritual ceremonies, and are spirituality influenced. In the book The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, refers to the Hmong culture and their beliefs on medicine while their baby Lia Lee, is suffering from epilepsy in which they have a hard decision. Traditional Hmong’s have their own medicinal beliefs which they obey prior to obtaining Western medicine. The gulf between Western medicine and Hmong health beliefs is an impossible abyss. Also, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down describes the life of Hmong refugees assimilating to the American culture which brings challenge to Hmong traditions.
Traditional Hmong’s believe in their Shaman rather than western doctors, they choose to detain their treatment by hosting their rituals to save them. A shaman is “a person who acts as intermediary between the natural and supernatural worlds, using magic to cure illness, foretell the future, control spiritual forces, etc” (dictionary.com). Hmong individual’s have a belief that ancestral spirits, including the spirits of shamans, are reincarnated into the same family tree. Hmong consider being a shaman an honor because they carry the duty of helping mankind according to Hmong mythology. Differences between Hmong traditional beliefs and Western biomedical beliefs create a lack of understanding. Negative health care experiences result in Hmong community members’ mistrust and fear of Western medicine. However, when there’s mistrust between a doctor and a patient there could be lack of treatment because of the differences between our ...


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...ulture is changing, Hmong are not all the same, importance of family, privacy issues, mental health issues, and small talk is important (Barrett et al., 1998, 181-182) . Overall, Barrett and others concluded that in order to improve interaction between patient and doctor all they have to do is follow these easy steps. First, is to be kind and have a positive attitude towards the patient and interpreter. Second, learn about each other’s cultures prior to meeting, to better understand each other. Third, better explain diagnosis and treatment options to patients. Fourth, improve translation providers need to get better interpreters who could concisely explain the consultation. Fifth, involve the family to make more thorough decisions. Sixth, respect patient’s decisions and there are still other alternatives to improve interaction (Barrett et al., 1998, 182-183).





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