Hieu Nguyen
English 111 Writing
Essay “Hmong’s Epilepsy and American’s Epilepsy”
Mar 14, 2016
Hmong’s Epilepsy and American’s Epilepsy
Science and culture are two different fields but they usually affect mutual. According to theconversation.com, " First, that people of non-western cultures may come to western medicine holding different beliefs about the causes and treatments of illness from those of scientific medicine, causing a “culture clash” between doctor and patient" (theconversation.com). Sometimes, a different culture is hard for doctors to help their patients. An example is Hmong people in America. Hmong people believe in a shaman, who has the power to heal any diseases. Hmong people have particular ways to help their epilepsy patients. In the past, the Hmong had a separate way to cure epilepsy, but in the current century the Hmong have had a revolution in their beliefs regarding epilepsy.
Hmong’s culture appeared in ancient times. They mostly live near the border between China, Vietnam, and Laos. According to hmongculture.net, “1810 - Hmong people cross the borders of China into Northern Laos” (hmongculture.net). They live in mountainous areas because they think it will protect them from danger. “1976 - The first wave of Hmong immigrants begin to arrive in the United States” (hmongculture.net). This was a big step for the Hmong people. In this country, they had to learn a new language and find jobs. Also, in this country, everything is very different culture to their country. "2004 - Another larger group of Hmong people arrives in the United States. There is a steady flow every year in the area of 1000-5000 immigrants" (hmongculture.net). In this century, America keeps accepting Hmong immigrants, because they want provide the opportunity to get a better life in their country.
Anne Fadiman is an author, essayist, editor, and teacher. Anne Fadiman has a famous book, it is “THE SPIRIT CATCHES YOU AND YOU FALL DOWN” is a book written by Anne Fadiman. In this book, Anne Fadiman teaches us about the Hmong medical culture in America. The main actor in her story is Lia, who was born in a Hmong family. Lia\'s was diagnosed with epilepsy when her family took her to a hospital. Her family did not believe in the diagnoses from the doctors and nurses. Her parents thought her disease was from a spirit in her family. They believed they had to invite a good shaman in their village to help her. According to Anne Fadiman, "They recognized the resulting symptoms as qaug dab peg, which means “the spirit catches you and you fall down” (Fadiman, 20). A doctor at the hospital tried to investigate Lia\'s disease history. The doctor wrote, “The patient is an 8 month, Hmong female, whose family brought her to the emergency room after they had noticed her shaking and not breathing very well for a 20-minute period of time” (Fadiman, 28). The author also tells us how Lia\'s parents talked to her doctors with broken English. They had to use another Hmong person, with marginally better English, to translate. This language barrier presented another challenge for her parents to believe the American doctors.
Hmong medical culture is different from American medical culture. In the Hmong tradition, every illness is from the soul. Epilepsy is included as an illness of spirit. Western science teaches doctors and nurses to use medicine, but Hmong people use their Shamans to heal their patients. In the Hmong language, they have different words to call epilepsy. According to Anne Fadiman, “In Hmong-English dictionaries, qaug dab peg is generally translated as epilepsy” (Fadiman, 20). This word is the name of the spirit Hmong people think is the sources. Epilepsy is a famous illness in Hmong village. It is a very serious and potentially dangerous condition. According to Anne Fadiman, “Their seizures are thought to be evidence that they have the power to perceive things other people cannot see, as well as facilitating their entry into trances, a prerequisite for their journeys into the realm of the unseen” ( Fadiman,21). However, in American culture doctors and nurses have a different idea about this illness. According to medicinenet.com, “Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which clusters of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain sometimes signal abnormally causing strange sensations, emotions, and behavior, or sometimes convulsions, muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness”