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The anthropology of globalization cultural anthropology enters the 21st century Essay

Cultural Anthropology


Are Quang dab peg and epilepsy the same thing?

            Throughout the book, the two words are interpreted differently. They seem to mean the same thing as it can be seen through Lia, whereby the Staff of the Merced Hospital conclude that Lia is suffering from Epilepsy, which further translated to Quag dab peg. However, the Hmong culture interpreted this differently. They believed that Quang dab peg is brought by a bad spirit known as dab, which is accountable of stealing the souls of the victims, thus, making the victim suffer. On the other hand, they believed that epilepsy is a western medicine that is used for the treatment of neurological conditions. Though both Quag dab peg and epilepsy has similar symptoms, each culture interpret the symptoms differently. This makes the both of them to appear differently, making the condition of them be different illness that requires different treatment. Drawing from “The Spirit Catches You”, the Hmong culture holds that the Quag dab peg as a condition with honor whereby the thoughts of the victim has authority to perceive things that are not visible to other people (Fadiman, 20).Therefore, regardless of the perception of the two cultures, the symptoms of the disease that Lia is suffering from is a clear indication that they are the same, thus, the two words, Quagdabs peg and epilepsy represents the same thing.

How doctors and TXIVneebs fix bodies and souls in the book “The Spirit Catches You”

            Drawing from the book, “The Spirit Catches You”, the doctors and the TXIVneebs were responsible for healing the patients. In both cultures, they used different approaches in line with their understanding about the illness. As such, the methods of the doctors caring for Lia is different from the method her parents would have taken. The doctor feels that, Lia conditions to treat her epilepsy is through writing her prescription and giving her dosages. Though the doctors did not understand how frequent to administer the drug, Lia’s parent also holds that it is not right to give their daughter too many tablets. Nevertheless, they opted for traditional Hmong medicine, including herbal and coin. Moreover, Lees also seek assistance of a Shaman, which is a type of alternative medicine famous among Asian-Americans. How the doctors perceived to treat the Lia’s condition was different from her parents’ perception. Wishing to utilize Shamans goes with their believe about the symptoms of epilepsy. Shamans usually define their patients as missing intact souls and work to diagnose and treat the condition that cannot be treated by a physician (Fadiman, 28). Through this healing method, it is extremely distinct from the traditional forms of healthcare found in America. Lees prefer this method because of their cultural background, but despite the variation in the methods of healing, both the Lia’s and the Lees doctors conclude that they all want Lia to restore her health. Both the doctors are concerned about the end result of the disease as well as the well being of Lia.

            In Hmong culture, the Quag dab peg it treated through shamanic rituals whereby the TXIV were responsible for carrying out the ritual. A TXIVneeb treated the patients on a metaphysical plane as in the case of Lia, whereby Lia’s rituals were usually carried to lure her soul back to her in order to restore her welfare. A TXIV placed a bowl containing sacred water in Lia’s room in the anticipation that her soul would come back. Moreover, they would sacrifice pigs in her parents house and place string on Lia’s wrist so as to keep the soul from escaping. Lia’s doctor could not understand the concept of soul loss in the way the TXIV need to understand to negotiate for Lia’s souls. This was one of the things that brought misunderstanding of both cultures. The cause of Lia illness was misinterpreted by both the doctors and her parents, the belief of Lia’s parents was that Lia was suffering from Quag dab peg while the doctors believed that Lia was suffering from epilepsy. As a result, Lia parents opt to take Lia to tivxneebs for traditional treatment. On the other hand, the doctors contend that Lia condition can only be controlled through antiepileptic medications, which they gave her. The contradictory paradigms of each member bring about misunderstanding of the disease. As a result, different methods for treating Lia are suggested for Lia welfare. For example, Lia’s parents failed to provide Lia with medications because they felt it would harm her, and decided to take Lia to TXIV when she grow up.

            However, in both cases, the TXIV and doctor’s requirements were only the same in the fact that they both contacted the house through calls. The work of the doctor is to treat the physical symptoms. In this case, Lia’s epileptic symptoms were treated with different medication such as phenobarbital and Dilantin, whereby the dosages were directed though writing the prescription.

Following the above case and given the problems that Lees had, do you think, as Fadiman asks that the “gulf” between these worlds is unbridgeable?

            In my opinion, we cannon holds that the world is unbridgeable. It is only a matter of examining the problems as they occur. Taking Lia case, the doctors held that she was suffering from epilepsy, while the society held that it was Quang dab peg. This was just at this time whereby the statement can hold. In the modern world the breakthrough has developed, which also continues to develop. When Fadina was phrasing the question, she was caught between two different cultures that holds different views. There was complete discord between the doctors and the Hmong(Fadiman, 259).

            The hospital staff saw as if Lia’s parent were not caring for her health, but the fact is that they cared and wanted to take her to a traditional doctor, which they had been using. Besides, her mother has been preparing salves for her every day. Therefore, it is clear that the world is bridgeable, though it depends on the people’s perception. It is a matter of time and knowledge in the usage of something, but there will always be a breakthrough in the world. Besides, it is clear that man cannot heal by science alone, there can be other form of mechanisms that can deliver treatment effectively through the cooperation between the doctor and the patient as seen through the tivxneebs doctors. People always seek for the best results to restore their life, regardless of the professionalism, but in the case for Lia, it is just because of the unbridgeable cultural gulf whereby the blame for what and who should have done the treatment should be attached ((Fadiman, 256).

Some of the specific practical examples of people/groups that are trying to “bridge the gulf” in the life or the soul”

            One of the relevant group that bridge the gulf in the life is the medical groups. Drawing from Fadiman claims that teaching medicine to students is a perfect job of separating students from their emotions, the various methods that are applied by medical doctors to prevent and treat illness provide the best treatment from traditional forms of treatment. The medical group spendstheir efforts and energy in research so as to provide solutions to problems that affect the society. In most cases, they come up with solutions concerning deadly disease that takes peoples life. For example, they have been able to develop measures for preventing HIV/AIDS, whereby a victim of HIV/AIDS can survive by just taking Antiretriviral drugs (ARVs). The medical groups have provided more attention since the Fadiman book was published because it incited doctors to concentrate on their profession ((Fadiman, 201).

            Considering Lia last diagnoses, a health care professional who struggled for almost twelve hours to control her condition did not even noticed her sex. The physician was so dedicated to safe Lia’s life and it might be the reason that Lia survived. This shows clearly that the medical group bridge the gulf in order for the victim to survive. In most cases, the medical group does not sleep, they keep awake trying to provide services to the patients all the time.

            Lia was the first Hmong to have ever heard of being treated by different doctors with the aim of saving her life. Most nurses and doctors sacrificed their energy and time to help her get well, although after all she died. Lia’s condition established the turning point to bridge the gulf for the medical group. She was the catalyst for bridging the gulf in minds and hearts and institutions and policies that impact them, thus, contributing to one of the cultural shifts whose root becomes more obscure the more its impact is experienced.

            The traditional groups also provide their sacred services with the mere aim of bridging the gulf of life. Through Lia’s case, it is apparent that the TXIVneeb dedicated their effort trying to negotiate for Lia’s life. The TXIV also dedicated their time to cooperate with Lia in the negotiation process. Moreover, the TXIV conducts an effective session of psychological therapy for Lia. Therefore, the traditional groups are also concerned about the life or the soul of the victim and hadly struggle to restore the soul.


Fadiman, Anne. The spirit catches you and you fall down: a Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1997. Print.

Barnard, A. (1998). Encyclopedia of social and cultural anthropology. London: Routledge.

Haviland, W. (1996).Cultural anthropology (8th ed.). Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College.

Lewellen, T. (2002).The anthropology of globalization cultural anthropology enters the 21st century. Westport, Conn.: Bergin & Garvey.

Barnard, A. (1998). Encyclopedia of social and cultural anthropology. London: Routledge.

Haviland, W. (1996).Cultural anthropology (8th ed.). Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College.

Lewellen, T. (2002).The anthropology of globalization cultural anthropology enters the 21st century. Westport, Conn.: Bergin & Garvey.

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