The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

by

Anne Fadiman

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Dan Murphy Character Analysis

A family practice resident at Merced Community Medical Center who is interested in Hmong culture. Dan is the first doctor to diagnose Lia as epileptic after seeing her in the throes of a seizure during her third visit to the hospital. Dan is devoted to learning about the Hmong people, even inviting various Hmong leaders to come to the hospital to tell the doctors about their experiences as refugees in an effort to open the lines of cross-cultural communication. Even so, he is unable to effectively communicate with the Lees about Lia’s condition or medication.

Dan Murphy Quotes in The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

The The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down quotes below are all either spoken by Dan Murphy or refer to Dan Murphy. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Farrar, Straus, and Giroux edition of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down published in 2012.
Chapter 3 Quotes

Although the inklings Dan had gathered of the transcendental Hmong worldview seemed to him to possess both power and beauty, his own view of medicine in general, and of epilepsy in particular, was, like that of his colleagues at MCMC, essentially rationalist. Hippocrates’ skeptical commentary on the nature of epilepsy, made around 400 B.C., pretty much sums up Dan’s own frame of reference: “It seems to me that the disease is no more divine than any other. It has a natural cause just as other diseases have. Men think it is divine merely because they don’t understand it. But if they called everything divine which they do not understand, why, there would be no end to divine things.”

Related Characters: Anne Fadiman (speaker), Lia Lee, Dan Murphy
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

And the other thing that was different between them and me was that they seemed to accept things that to me were major catastrophes as part of the normal flow of life. For them, the crisis was the treatment, not the epilepsy. I felt a tremendous responsibility to stop the seizures and to make sure another one never happened again, and they felt more like these things happen, you know, not everything is in our control, and not everything is in your control.

Related Characters: Dan Murphy (speaker), Lia Lee, Anne Fadiman
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:
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Dan Murphy Character Timeline in The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

The timeline below shows where the character Dan Murphy appears in The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
...two. First of all, she arrived while seizing. Fortunately, there was a doctor on rotation, Dan Murphy, who was particularly interested in Merced’s Hmong population. Second of all, Foua and Nao... (full context)
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
Dan eventually diagnosed Lia with epilepsy, having no idea that her parents had already determined that... (full context)
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
Fadiman calls Dan’s view of epilepsy “essentially rationalist,” saying that, like the rest of his medical colleagues, he... (full context)
Chapter 5: Take as Directed
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
Integration and Assimilation Theme Icon
...medicines are causing the seizures and also the fever.” In keeping with this, Foua told Dan Murphy one night at MCMC that she “didn’t think you should ever have to give... (full context)
Chapter 6: High-Velocity Transcortical Lead Therapy
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
Blame and Power Theme Icon
...is rubbed against the skin to create lesions. She relates one story she heard from Dan Murphy, who told her that a Hmong father was jailed in Fresno after a teacher... (full context)
Chapter 17: The Eight Questions
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
...a possibility that the Depakene had made Lia especially vulnerable to infection. When Fadiman told Dan Murphy the same thing, he pointed out that Neil probably would have caught the infection... (full context)
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
...attempt to postulate what could have happened differently in Lia’s medical history, Fadiman spoke to Dan Murphy, who expressed that he believed there was a “gulf” between the Lees and the... (full context)
The Afterword to the Fifteenth Anniversary Edition
Cultural Values, Spirituality, and Medicine  Theme Icon
Blame and Power Theme Icon
...with Lia […]. Then I started working here and realized no one was to blame.” Dan Murphy works in Oregon and has become an advocate for Patient- and Family-Centered Care, a... (full context)