A cross-cultural approach to the study of the folk illness nervios

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

66 Scopus citations


To systematically study and document regional variations in descriptions of nervios, we undertook a multisite comparative study of the illness among Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and Guatemalans. We also conducted a parallel study on susto (Weller et al. 2002, Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 26(4): 449-472), which allows for a systematic comparison of these illnesses across sites. The focus of this paper is inter- and intracultural variations in descriptions in four Latino populations of the causes, symptoms, and treatments of nervios, as well as similarities and differences between nervios and susto in these same communities. We found agreement among all four samples on a core description of nervios, as well as some overlap in aspects of nervios and susto. However, nervios is a much broader illness, related more to continual stresses. In contrast, susto seems to be related to a single stressful event.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-337
Number of pages23
JournalCulture, Medicine and Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2003



  • Latino folk illnesses
  • Nervios
  • Susto

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Baer, R. D., Weller, S. C., De Alba Garcia, J. G., Glazer, M., Trotter II, R. T., Pachter, L., & Klein, R. E. (2003). A cross-cultural approach to the study of the folk illness nervios. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 27(3), 315-337. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1025351231862