The Subjectivity and Art of Diagnosis

Week 4 Journal

The Subjectivity and Art of Diagnosis

For this week’s journal, I have chosen to discuss Susto. I have chosen this particular culture-bound syndrome instead of one of the others because I found it to be very interesting. This syndrome kind of reminds me of someone who has had an out of body experience due to being near death or dead for a very short time and then being revived. Susto is a culture-bound syndrome that is most prominent among individuals from Latino and Hispanic backgrounds. It is thought that susto is caused by being startled or frightened and that during this fright one’s soul is actually separated from their body. Individuals who experience susto can manifest a variety of physical and mental symptoms that are associated with this syndrome, those symptoms include; “fever, diarrhea, loss of appetite, insomnia, confusion, apathy, depression, and introversion” (Nogueira, Mari, & Razzouk, 2015). Some individuals who experience susto are thought to have a hard time conforming to the expectations that are set forth by their culture in order to gain acceptance and therefore they are in a sense frightened by not being able to perform at the levels that are expected of them and fear embarrassment.

The culture-bound syndrome of susto in a sense reminds me of anxiety disorder, Generalized Anxiety disorder (GAD) as well as Panic disorder (PD). Both GAD and PD exhibit similar symptoms of those associated with susto, such as; diarrhea or gastrointestinal distress, insomnia, confusion, and introversion. The DSM-5 classifies GAD as having symptoms of “difficulty concentrating or mind going blank” and “sleep disturbances”. It also classifies PD as having and feeling of “derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)”

They are similar In that the stress response and ones ability to cope with stress and stressful situations play a large role in the manifestation of symptoms that are responsible for the onset and symptoms of susto.


Nogueira, B. L., Mari, J. D., & Razzouk, D. (2015). Culture-bound syndromes in Spanish

speaking Latin America: the case of Nervios, Susto and Ataques de Nervios

[Journal]. Archives of Clinical Psychiatry (São Paulo), 42(6).

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