As we can see, the Hmong rituals and lifestyles are immensely different than what most Americans are used to. As we grow up, we tend to follow the traditions in which we have acquired from our family members, which becomes the “norm” for us, and that is exactly what the Hmong culture has done as well. Americans are highly reliant on modern medicine, and sometimes we, as a whole tend to be ignorant when it comes to accepting other methods of treatment such as the different ways of child birth we learned about earlier in the semester. As we learned this week, it is extremely important to be aware of these other cultures, not only the Hmong culture, but several other cultures around the world; not all American’s value the same procedures. As we learned in readings, The Spirt Catches You and You Fall Down, the members of the Hmong culture are very reliant on their contact with the ancestors, rather than modern medicine. Not only with illnesses in need of a cure, but they are very aware of what their bodies are in need of, in the text it mentioned that during pregnancy, women are very aware of how to keep their children healthy; if they are craving a specific food, they shall not ignore this craving or else their child will be born with a deformity of some sort (Fadiman).
As we learned from the lectures, The Lee family was not exactly taken very seriously; the medical teams did not work has hard to understand the Hmong traditions as the Hmong’s tried to understand and accept the American way. I don’t exactly think it is the American doctors fault that the situation ended in the way it did, but I do think they should have taken a bit more time to research and learn the background of the patient they were dealing with. When Lia Lee was young, she was diagnosed with epilepsy, however, her family believed her problems were related to wandering spirits. Her family attempted to do all they could to help their daughter, until the child protective services came in and took her from her family. Her family was full of love, and it had to be awful to have their child taken from them, considering they were only attempting to help her the only way they knew how (Marcum 2012). I understand the reasoning behind taking Lia away from her family, but I also think we should be educated on these different cultures before we interfere. I think both the refugees and the Americans should be educated on the opposing cultures; maybe work to find some sort of happy medium, and a balance between the two cultures, and way of handing illnesses.
According to an article I read, there was a study done in order to understand the mental health of Hmong Americans. The purpose of the study was to understand why many of these Hmong Americans tend to have anxiety, and or suffer from issues such as depression. I thought it was really interesting that they discovered that many of the Hmong Americans that showed signs of depression also had quit engaging in some sort of Hmong rituals that they had previously participated in prior to their move to the United States. There was also a correlation between poor mental health and clashing of their original cultures. Along with issues such as depression and anxiety, researchers found that those of the Hmong culture often deal with adjustment issues, family issues and substance abuse. I think this is a large red flag when we see that a majority of these Hmong Americans are suffering from these issues, and much of this can be correlated with the stress Hmong’s feel when they are forced to transform to American ways. The more diverse our country becomes, the more we should be working to educate ourselves and others to avoid forcing others to feel as if they must leave their traditions behind, in order to be accepted in the United States.
Lee, Song E. “Mental Health of Hmong Americans: A Metasynthesis of Academic Journal Article Findings.” Hmong Studies Journal 14 (2013): 1-31.