26+ quotes from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman

Quotes from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures

Anne Fadiman ·  341 pages

Rating: (54.2K votes)


“I have always felt that the action most worth watching is not at the center of things but where edges meet. I like shorelines, weather fronts, international borders. There are interesting frictions and incongruities in these places, and often, if you stand at the point of tangency, you can see both sides better than if you were in the middle of either one.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“The action most worth watching is not at the center of things, but where edges meet.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“The Hmong have a phrase, hais cuaj txub kaum txub, which means “to speak of all kinds of things.” It is often used at the beginning of an oral narrative as a way of reminding the listeners that the world is full of things that may not seem to be connected but actually are; that no event occurs in isolation; that you can miss a lot by sticking to the point; and that the storyteller is likely to be rather long-winded.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“If the soul cannot find its jacket. it is condemned to an eternity of wandering--naked and alone”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“You can miss a lot by sticking to the point.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“Our view of reality is only a view, not reality itself.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“If you can’t see that your own culture has its own set of interests, emotions, and biases, how can you expect to deal successfully with someone else’s culture?”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“So, if you're a doctor, how can you recognize that you're having a feeling? Some tips from Dr. Zinn:
Most emotions have physical counterparts. Anxiety may be associated with a tightness of the abdomen or excessive diaphoresis; anger may be manifested by a generalized muscle tightness or a clenching of the jaw; sexual arousal may be noted by a tingling of the loins or piloerection; and sadness may be felt by conjunctival injection or heaviness of the chest.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“Timothy Dunnigan: The kinds of metaphorical language that we use to describe the Hmong say far more about us, and our attachment to our own frame of reference, than they do about the Hmong.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“You go from the north of Laos and then you go across the Mekong, and when the Pathet Lao soldiers fire, you do not think about your family, just yourself only. When you are on the other side, you will not be like what you were before ou get through the Mekong. On the other side you cannot say to your wife, I love you more than my life. She saw! You cannot say that anymore! And when you try to restick this thing together is is like putting glue on a broken glass.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“The Hmong never had any interest in ruling over the Chinese or anyone else; they wanted merely to be left alone, which, as their later history was also to illustrate, may be the most difficult request any minority can make of a majority culture.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“You know Anne,' he said quietly, 'when I am with a Hmong or a French or an American person, I am always the one who laughs last at a joke. I am the chameleon animal. You can place me anyplace, and I will survive, but I will not belong. I must tell you that I do not really belong anywhere.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“I have always felt that the action most worth watching is not at the center of things but where edges meet.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“I have always felt that the action most worth watching is not at the center of things but where edges meet. I like shorelines, weather fronts, international borders. There are interesting frictions and incongruities in these places, and often, if you stand at the point of tangency, you can see both sides better than if you were in the middle of either one. This is especially true, I think, when the apposition is cultural.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“It is well known that involuntary migrants, no matter what pot they are thrown into, tend not to melt.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“In Laos, a baby was never apart from its mother, sleeping in her arms all night and riding on her back all day. Small children were rarely abused; it was believed that a dab who witnessed mistreatment might take the child, assuming it was not wanted. The Hmong who live in the United States have continued to be unusually attentive parents. A study conducted at the University of Minnesota found Hmong infants in the first month of life to be less irritable and more securely attached to their mothers than Caucasian infants, a difference the researcher attributed to the fact that the Hmong mothers were, without exception, more sensitive, more accepting, and more responsive, as well as “exquisitely attuned” to their children’s signals. Another study, conducted in Portland, Oregon, found that Hmong mothers held and touched their babies far more frequently than Caucasian mothers. In a third study, conducted at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minnesota, a group of Hmong mothers of toddlers surpassed a group of Caucasian mothers of similar socioeconomic status in every one of fourteen categories selected from the Egeland Mother-Child Rating Scale, ranging from “Speed of Responsiveness to Fussing and Crying” to “Delight.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“Cultural humility” acknowledges that doctors bring the baggage of their own cultures—their own ethnic backgrounds along with the culture of medicine—to the patient’s bedside, and that these may not necessarily be superior.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“In Minneapolis, tires were slashed and windows smashed. A high school student getting off a bus was hit in the face and told to “go back to China.” A woman was kicked in the thighs, face, and kidneys, and her purse, which contained the family’s entire savings of $400, was stolen; afterwards, she forbade her children to play outdoors, and her husband, who had once commanded a fifty-man unit in the Armée Clandestine, stayed home to guard the family’s belongings. In Providence, children walking home from school were beaten. In Missoula, teenagers were stoned. In Milwaukee, garden plots were vandalized and a car was set on fire. In Eureka, California, two burning crosses were placed on a family’s front lawn. In a random act of violence near Springfield, Illinois, a twelve-year-old boy was shot and killed by three men who forced his family’s car off Interstate 55 and demanded money. His father told a reporter, “In a war, you know who your enemies are. Here, you don’t know if the person walking up to you will hurt you.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“Every illness is not a set of pathologies but a personal story”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“During the late 1910s and early ’20s, immigrant workers at the Ford automotive plant in Dearborn, Michigan, were given free, compulsory “Americanization” classes. In addition to English lessons, there were lectures on work habits, personal hygiene, and table manners. The first sentence they memorized was “I am a good American.” During their graduation ceremony they gathered next to a gigantic wooden pot, which their teachers stirred with ten-foot ladles. The students walked through a door into the pot, wearing traditional costumes from their countries of origin and singing songs in their native languages. A few minutes later, the door in the pot opened, and the students walked out again, wearing suits and ties, waving American flags, and singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“A sponsoring pastor in Minnesota told a local newspaper, “It would be wicked to just bring them over and feed and clothe them and let them go to hell. The God who made us wants them to be converted. If anyone thinks that a gospel-preaching church would bring them over and not tell them about the Lord, they’re out of their mind.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“When Pang was barely out of toddlerhood, she zoomed in and out of the apartment unsupervised, playing with plastic bags and, on occasion, with a large butcher knife.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“The kinds of metaphorical language that we use to describe the Hmong say far more about us, and our attachment to our own frame of reference, than they do about the Hmong.” So much for the Perambulating Postbox Theory.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“her father had built from ax-hewn planks thatched with bamboo and grass. The floor was dirt, but it was clean. Her mother, Foua, sprinkled it regularly with”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“During the late 1910s and early ’20s, immigrant workers at the Ford automotive plant in Dearborn, Michigan, were given free, compulsory “Americanization” classes. In addition to English lessons, there were lectures on work habits, personal hygiene, and table manners. The first sentence they memorized was “I am a good American.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


“It was also true that if the Lees were still in Laos, Lia would probably have died before she was out of infancy, from a prolonged bout of untreated status epilepticus. American medicine had both preserved her life and compromised it. I was unsure which had hurt her family more.”
― Anne Fadiman, quote from The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures


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About the author

Anne Fadiman
Born place: in New York, New York, The United States
Born date August 7, 1953
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