Ataques De Nervios in Puerto Rico: Culture-Bound Syndrome or Popular Illness?

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Ataque de nervios is a popular illness category among Puerto Kicans and other Latinos written about in anthropological and psychiatric literature for over thirty years. This paper discusses the issue of categorizing ataque de nervios as a “culture-bound syndrome” using data from the first community-based study of this phenomena using epidemiological methods. The paper summarizes the social and psychological correlates of ataques de nervios and provides a preliminary overview of the situations which provoke ataques and the symptoms people experience. The paper critically examines the use of the “culture-bound syndrome” framework for analyzing ataques de nervios and suggests that the term “popular illness” is a more effective label for categorizing this syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-170
Number of pages14
JournalMedical Anthropology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology


  • Ataques de Nervios
  • Latino folk illness
  • Puerto Rico
  • culture-bound syndrome
  • popular illness

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