The andean cultural model of susto: cultural consonance and historical trauma in the Andes
The research presented in these pages on cultural consonance, historical trauma, and susto demonstrates important relationships between risk factors for susto. Susto is a cultural syndrome associated with fright that impacts Andean farmers. Methods of epidemiology and cultural consensus analysis were used to explore the distribution of understandings of susto in the Callejón de Huaylas valley. Andeans link a combination of culturally salient and generalized illness symptoms to susto, and how one classifies these symptoms is dependent upon a number of sociocultural factors. Historical trauma was explored as it related to susto. Historically traumatic events are frightening and are a common cause of susto, suggesting that susto may be a culturally salient model for dealing with cultural trauma. By analyzing the symptomatology of susto from an epidemiologic standpoint one can gain insight into Andean culture and health-seeking behaviors. The Susto Symptom Scale developed for this research is an important diagnostic tool for determining if one has susto. Susto is an idiom for historical trauma and is helpful in assessing the level of exposure to historical trauma that highlanders in the valley have endured. Susto seems to be an "explanatory model" to deal with anxiousness associated with suffering from an illness. There are multiple risk factors that can help to determine if an individual is at an increased risk for developing susto. Susto is the combination between low cultural consonance, age, and a historically traumatic past; and it is these factors that make the cultural model of susto applicable.