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 Culture and Personality 

(Psychological Anthropology)

  Margaret Mead
 Zhuangzi dreaming of a butterfly
(or a butterfly dreaming of Zhuangzi)


 Fall 2018 Calendar
Tuesday, 18 June 2024, 16:40 (04:40 PM) CDT, day 170 of 2024

Mustard seed.
Selected Culture and Personality WebSites

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Text, "Susto: A Folk Illness," by Arthur J. Rubel, Carl W. O'Nell, and  Rolando Collado-Ardon.

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Culture-Bound Syndromes

  • Disease is universal

    • compare: etic

  • Illness is culturally specific

    • compare: emic

chart of syndromes

related websites

Culture-specific syndrome -- Wikipedia
Selected list of syndroms -- Wikipedia


Text, "Boo!: Culture, Experience, and the Startle Reflex, by Ronald C. Simons.

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-- Wikipedia

Malaysia and Indonesia dissociative episodes, outbursts of violent and aggressive or homicidal behavior directed at people and objects, persecutory ideas, amnesia, exhaustion

(startle reflex)

-- Wikipedia

Text, "Boo!: Culture, Experience, and the Startle Reflex, by Ronald C. Simons.

Malaysia and Indonesia

afflicted person becomes flustered and may say and do things that appear amusing, such as mimicking people's words and movements

mal ojo
(evil eye)

evil eye
-- Wikipedia

Evil Eye: A Casebook by Alan Dundes (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992)

Death by Envy: The Evil Eye and Envy in the Christian Tradition by George Aquaro (iUniverse, 2004)

The Evil Eye: The Classic Account of an Ancient Superstition (Dover Books on Anthropology and Folklore) (Vol i) by Frederick Thomas Elworthy (NY: Dover, 2004)


Mediterranean and Latin American Hispanic populations

(and the more general concept of "evil eye" is also found elsehere)

fitful sleep, crying without apparent cause, diarrhea, vomiting, fever in a child or infant

(fright sickness)

-- Wikipedia


Text, "Susto: A Folk Illness," by Arthur J. Rubel, Carl W. O'Nell, and  Rolando Collado-Ardon.

Latin American Hispanic populations in U.S.A., Mexico, and Central and South America

usually associated with a broad array of symptoms, including nervousness, anorexia, insomnia, listlessness, despondency, involuntary muscle tics, and diarrhea; thought to be caused by fright that results in loss of soul from the body; causes can be natural or "supernatural" -- natural susto may occur after a near miss or accident, a supernatural susto may occur after witnessing a supernatural phenomena such as a ghost; a supernatural susto might be sent by sorcerers; those most likely to suffer from susto are culturally stressed adults--women more than men

(Arctic hysteria)

-- Wikipedia

Inuit of the Arctic, Siberian groups brooding, depressive silences, loss or disturbance of consciousness during seizure, tearing off of clothing, fleeing or wandering, rolling in snow, speaking in tongues or echoing other people's words


-- Wikipedia

Cree, Ojibwa, and related Native American groups of central and northeastern Canada depression, nausea, distaste for usual foods, feelings of being possessed by a cannibalistic monster, homicidal or suicidal impulses

ghost sickness

Ghost sickness
-- Wikipedia

Navajo of the southwestern United States weakness, bad dreams, feelings of danger, confusion, feelings of futility, loss of appetite, feelings of suffocation, fainting, dizziness, hallucinations and loss of consciousness


hysterical convulsive disorders, posturing and tics, psychomotor seizures


(Manitoba, Canada)
withdrawal from social contact, feeling of having sinned, feeling of religious unworthiness, temptation to commit suicide

brain fag

brain fag
-- Wikipedia

Nigeria and East African students pain, heat or burning sensations, pressure or tightness around head, blurring of vision, inability to concentrate when studying, anxiety and depression, fatigue and sleepiness


-- Wikipedia

South China, Chinese and Malaysian populations in southeast Asia, Hindus of Assam anxiety in males that the penis will recede into the body and for females that the vulva and breasts will recede into the body


Japan fear of meeting people, feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, hypochondriasis

Adapted from Cultural Anthropology, 2nd ed. Miller, Barbara D. Boston:Allyn and Bacon, 2002, p. 156, who, in turn adapted it from Ronald C. Simons and Charles C. Hughes, eds., The Culture-Bound Syndromes: Folk Illnesses of Psychiatric and Anthropological Interest, Boston, D. Reidel, 1985: 91-110.


Related WebSites

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