Widespread throughout Latin America, susto is a folk illness associated with a broad array of symptoms. It is considered by susceptible populations to be a sickness caused by the separation of soul and body which is precipitated by a supernatural force. Most studies of culture-bound diseases have relied on descriptive approaches that focus on pathologies derived from medical textbooks. This study takes an interdisciplinary approach, looking for explanations of susto in the interaction of social, physiological, and psychological factors.
Arthur Rubel is Professor of Family Medicine at the University of California, Irvine. Carl O'Nell is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. Rolando Collado-Ardón is Professor-Researcher in the Departmento de Medicina Social at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.