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Chapter 3-4

L48 Anthro 3283 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3-4: Lumbar Puncture, Idiopathy, Undressed

Course Code
L48 Anthro 3283
Benson Peter

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Fadiman Chapter 3 and 4
Quag dab peg the spirit catches you and you fall down
o In HmongEnglish dictionaries, it is translated as epilepsy
o Illness well known to Hmong, regard it with ambivalence
o Acknowledged to be a serious and potentially dangerous condition
Considered to be an illness to some distinction
o Hmong epileptics often become shamans
o Seizure thought of as power to perceive things others can’t see
Shaminsm is an arduous calling that requires years of training in order to learn the ritual
techniques and chants, it confers an enormous amount of social status in the community
and publicly marks the txiv neeb as a person of high moral character
Hmong known for gentleness in which they treat their children
University of Minnesota found Hmong infants in the 1st month of life to be less irritable
and more securely attached to their mothers than Caucasian infants
o Found that Hmong mothers were more sensitive, more accepting, and more
responsive to children’s signals
Lia’s parents hoped her illness would be healed, but also considered it an honor
o Felt she was special, would grow up to be a shaman, so sometimes thought of it as
a medical problem rather than a blessing
Lia was her parent’s favorite child; special tenderness because she is sick?
Back in Thailand refugee camp, some of their children got sick, blamed it on spirits, took
them to a hospital; this did not shake their faith in traditional Hmong beliefs, but it
convinced them that western doctors could be of help
MCMC had financial problems, accepts all patients whether or not they can pay; only
20% are privately insured, the rest are government programs
Merced population 61,000; 12,000 are Hmong; don’t help with the payer mix; 80% are
on Medi-Cal
No Hmong speaking employees, had to use teenage kids to translate serious medical
o Sometimes a child is not available, and doctors have no way of asking during late
night shifts, the patient’s medical history or what is wrong with them (very
important questions especially asking if they have eaten in order to do a surgery)
Her parents have no way of explaining what happened to Lia; seizures stopped by the
time she got to hospital, doctors thought she only had a bad cough and misdiagnosed her
o Happened a second time; misdiagnosed her
3rd time Dan Murphy was there, interested in the Hmong; saw that Lia was having
seizures; convinced parents to do a spinal tap, even though they were very resistant
o he had no way to know that the parents already diagnosed her with the illness the
spirit catches you and you fall down; the parents didn’t know that Dan diagnosed
it as epilepsy
o each side was surprised by each other’s views on what caused it; soul loss vs.
electrochemical storm in her head
Dan gathered the Hmong view possessed power and beauty; his view was rational
Her parents consented to having many tests done; Lia’s epilepsy deemed as ‘idiopathic’ –
cause unknown
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