A Converse Analysis of Susto and Depression: Challenging the Assumed Supremacy of Western Psychiatric Nosology (pp. 255-285)
Authors: Andrew R. Hatala
Abstract: The relation between culture-bound syndromes and Western DSM nosological categories is a topic of considerable debate in contemporary psychological literature. Is the assumed supremacy of Western classification systems justified? Or should “culture-bound syndromes” be thought of in a more normative light? In order to explore these questions, a converse analysis between susto, a popular culture-bound syndrome, and depressive disorders is carried out. By drawing on cases of susto in ethnographic studies from Mexico and Central America this paper compares the etiology, symptomology and phenomenology of these two conditions. Overall, it is argued that conceptualizing Western forms of depression as susto not only highlights the cultural contingency of both conditions, thereby challenging the marginality of the so called “culture-bound syndromes” in contemporary discourse, but also provides several insights regarding these conditions and offers new avenues for research and therapeutic exploration.