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26 Pages

Gender, Emotion, and Nervios in Urban Guatemala

This study of nervios in a poor, resettled colonia (neighborhood) outside Guatemala City is part of an ongoing analysis of the cross-cultural significance and meaning of nerves. Nerves, or nervios among Spanishspeaking populations, is both a common, culturally acceptable distress symptom, that is, a sign of psychosocial discomfort, and a syndrome,

that is, a local medical concept that identifies and gives meaning to a group of distress-related symptoms (Low, 1988a). It is a particularly interesting example of a popular illness that has no clear biomedical diagnosis or description but has developed culture-specific interpretations and meanings in a variety of cultural settings (Low, 1985a).