ILLNESS AND ITS VARIOUS MEANINGS
Kleinman describes the illness as how the [ill] person and the members of the family or wider social network perceive, live with, and respond to symptoms and disability (Kleinman 3). Illness is "meaningful," and these various meanings can be interpreted within a relationship, whether that be the emotion belonging to the ill individual's loved one, their relationship with himself, or the relationship he has among different societies (Kleinman 5). In this paper, I am going to discuss how the experience of illness is shaped by culture, which affects how one will perceive their illness, as well as how others react to that individual's illness.
For members of non-Western societies, [individual bodies are] not secularized private domain of [that] person, but an organic part of a sacred, socio-centric world, a communication system involving exchanges with others (including the divine) (Kleinman 11). In The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Lia's seizures were considered as not so much a medical problem as it was a blessing to her parents (Fadiman 22). These seizures were thought to be evidence that [the ill individual has] the power to perceive things other people cannot see (Fadiman 21). The Lee family did not understand Lia's diagnosis as an epileptic; her parents believed that she was special. This can correlate to how illness affects how others treat you, as well as how one perceives yourself. It was written in the novel that it was obvious that Lia was her parent's favorite, whether that happened from her birth or due to her illness (Fadiman 23).
Different cultures have different beliefs on suffering of an illness. The possibility for human transformation, immanent or transcendent, sometimes begins with the vision of [disability and death] (Kleinman 55). Illness transforms how one perceives the world and how one takes care of themselves. For example, in Hmong culture, being chosen to be a twin neeb (or "per...