Shut your mouth by George Catlin - Notes & Highlights

Shut your mouth by George Catlin - Notes & Highlights


The observations of George Catlin on the ways of living by Native Americans in comparison with civilized society in the 1800s.

Table of contents

🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. George Catlin was an artist traveler who roamed society and the Native Americans. During his travels, he observed the ways of different lifestyles and documented this in writing and drawings.
  2. His main observation is that natives are being taught as a baby that you breathe through your nose. After the baby was fed from the breast and fell asleep, the mother would make sure that the baby would fall asleep with the mouth closed. While on the other side, western society is being raised in comfortable, warm living areas where children fall asleep with their mouths open.
  3. It further describes all the adverse effects this habit change has on our lives. The book was written in the 1800s, so the consequences were more visible back then, whereas healthcare innovations today have helped us masquerade the problems.

🎨 Impressions

Several things in this book have surprised me. First, the death rate of young children/newborns in the UK in the mid-1800s was nearly 50%. Getting to the age of 21 was more uncommon than typical. It feels like a long time ago, but it was only 170 years ago.

The second thing that surprised me was that the mortality rate of children with natives was almost 0. According to the author, this has everything to do with nose breathing vs. mouth breathing. We are losing our sense of the "old way," resulting in significant health difficulties. Many health specialists today know the dangers of mouth breathing, and therefore it surprises me that this isn't getting any attention when raising a kid or in general.

Another thing that I noticed was the introduction of "Firewater" (a brilliant name for alcohol). Tribes that got in touch with firewater seemed less healthy than tribes living without firewater. The author doesn't focus on this, only briefly describing it. Not enough to jump to conclusions.

How I Discovered It

I believe I asked Chat GPT for book recommendations on nose breathing.

Who Should Read It?

Everyone. Especially parents. Creating a nose-breathing habit is far more manageable as a newborn than as an adult.

☘️ How the Book Changed Me

💡 How my life / behavior / thoughts / ideas have changed as a result of reading the book.

  • I've started paying much attention to nose breathing during the day.
  • I spend hours researching current data on how the respiratory tract works and the dangers of mouth breathing.
  • I even started using Somnifix mouth tape during the night to get my body into the habit of closing my mouth during the night.
  • I am considering spending even more time researching the topic. It's fascinating how the human body works.

✍️ My Top 3 Quotes

  • "Idiots asleep cannot be Angels awake."
  • "My son, if you would be wise, open first your Eyes, your Ears next, and last of all, your Mouth, that your words may be words of wisdom, and give no advantage to thine adversary."
  • "H'doo-a, h'doo-a, won-cha-doo-ats" (Straighten the bush, and you will straighten the tree). "Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclined."