Regional variation in latino descriptions of Susto

Susan C. Weller, Roberta D. Baer, Javier Garcia Alba De Garcia, Mark Glazer, Robert Trotter, Lee Pachter, Robert E. Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Susto, a folk illness not recognized by biomedical practitioners as a disease, is now formally part of the diagnostic classification system in psychiatry as a "culturebound syndrome." Susto has been reported among diverse groups of Latin Americans, but most of those reports are several decades old and many were conducted in Indian communities. This study focuses on contemporary descriptions of susto and uses a cross-cultural, comparative design to describe susto in three diverse .Latino populations. Mestizo/ladino populations were interviewed in Guatemala, Mexico, and south Texas. An initial set of open-ended interviews was conducted with a sample of "key" informants at each site to obtain descriptive information about susto. A structured interview protocol was developed for use at all three sites, incorporating information from those initial interviews. A second set of structured interviews was then conducted with a representative sample at each site. Results indicate a good deal of consistency in reports of what susto is: what causes it, its symptoms, and how to treat it. There appear to be, however, some notable regional variations in treatments and a difference between past descriptions and contemporary reports of etiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-472
Number of pages24
JournalCulture, Medicine and Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2002


  • Cross-cultural comparison
  • Folk illness
  • Latin American illness concepts
  • Susto

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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