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Susto (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈsusto], Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈsuʃtu]) is a cultural illness primarily among Latin American cultures. It is described by Razzouk et al. as a condition of being frightened and "chronic somatic suffering stemming from emotional trauma or from witnessing traumatic experiences lived by others".[1] Susto is classified as a culture-bound syndrome,[2] a symptom that occurs and is recognized within an ethnic group.[3]


Among the indigenous peoples of Latin America, in which this illness is most common, susto may be conceptualized as a case of spirit attack.[4] Symptoms of susto are thought to include nervousness, anorexia, insomnia, listlessness, fever, depression, and diarrhea.[1]


Susto may be a culturally dependent variation of the symptoms of panic attack, distinct from anxiety and depressive disorders.[1]

See also

  • Psychological trauma


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "The contribution of Latin American and Caribbean countries on culture bound syndromes studies for the ICD-10 revision: key findings from a work in progress". Rev Bras Psiquiatr 33 Suppl 1: S5–20. May 2011. doi:10.1590/S1516-44462011000500003. PMID 21845335. 
  2. Donlan, William; Lee, Junghee (December 2010). "Coraje, nervios, andsusto: Culture-bound syndromes and mental health among Mexican migrants in the United States" (in en). Advances in Mental Health 9 (3): 288–302. doi:10.5172/jamh.9.3.288. ISSN 1838-7357. 
  3. Griffith, Laura (2014-02-21), "Culture-Bound Syndrome" (in en), The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Health, Illness, Behavior, and Society, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, pp. 354–356, doi:10.1002/9781118410868.wbehibs189, ISBN 9781118410868 
  4. Castillo, Richard (1997). Culture & Mental Illness: A Client-Centered Approach. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company

Further reading

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