Some of the most common culture-bound syndromes described among Latinos include empacho (stomach ailment), susto (fright), caida de mollera (fallen fontanelle), mal de ojo (evil eye), bilongo/hechizo (hex), ataques de nervios (attack of the nerves), and envidia (envy) (Spicer, 1977; Trotter, 1981).
Many Latinos prefer spiritual healers, rather than a physician, to treat culture-bound syndromes because a physician does not have the knowledge or the understanding to treat the syndromes (Applewhite, 1995; Rivera, Lucero, & Salazar, 1979).
They are referred for culture-bound syndromes and physical illnesses.
Culture-bound syndromes and physical illnesses may be caused by natural or spiritual intrusions into the body, which can be addressed through spiritual rebirth, protection, and cleansing from negative influences.
The purpose of this study was to assess the extent to which Central American immigrants endorsed and used ethnomedical approaches to treatment and to examine the culture-bound syndromes and illnesses for which these ethnomedical approaches are used.
The use of ethnomedical and biomedical aproaches to treat culture-bound syndromes described in the literature, such as ataques de nervios (attack of the nerves), empacho (blocked intestine), envidia (type of hex), hechizo (hex or spell), mal de ojo (evil eye), and susto (fright/lost soul), was assessed.
The types of treatments the participants sought to address culture-bound syndromes and medical illnesses are shown in Tables 3 and 4.
Discussing specific culture-bound syndromes may allow a client the tacit approval required to openly discuss specific folk treatments that have been initiated or considered.
Anthropologists have demonstrated that culture-bound syndromes
such as semen depletion (Bottero, 1991; Herdt, 1997) or erectile dysfunction (Inhorn, 2002a; Potts, 2000) depend not only on culturally specific understandings of human reproductive physiology, but also on a phallocentric perspective on human sexuality that de-emphasizes other forms of male sexual expression and pleasure.