Susto and soul loss in Mexicans and Mexican Americans

Mark Glazer, Roberta D. Baer, Susan G. Weller, Javier Eduardo Garcia De Alba, Stephen W. Liebowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Susto is a Latin American folk illness attributed to having a frightening experience, often including "soul loss" as part of the etiology. This article focuses on contemporary descriptions of susto among mestizos in Mexico and Mexican Americans in south Texas and explores the link between susto and soul loss in detail. Interviews conducted in Guadalajara, Mexico (n = 50), and in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas (n = 951) indicate that only a minority of informants aware of susto have also heard of soul loss and that even among those who have had susto, soul loss is not necessarily apart of susto. Soul loss, in fact, is more often equated with death. Our data, as well as a careful review of earlier reports of susto and soul loss, suggest that what was thought to have left the body may not be the "soul" but rather a "vital force".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-288
Number of pages19
JournalCross-Cultural Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • And Mexican Americans
  • Latin America
  • Mexico
  • Susto

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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