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Nevra in a Greek Village: Idiom, Metaphor, Symptom, or Disorder?

Nevra (nerves) is an idiom of distress, a metaphor for social disorder within the family, and a symbol for value contradictions resulting from rapid socioeconomic change for the villagers of Methana in the Greek Peloponnese. The results of my study of nevra in Methana are largely consistent with earlier cross-cultural research on nerves, discussed by Davis and Low in the introduction to this issue. What was unexpected was the insistence, by most Methanites, that women were no more likely than men to suffer from nevra. This was surprising because a number of studies have shown nerves to be more frequently a medium of expression of distress for women than for men because of women's limited options for self-expression resulting from cultural definitions of their roles (see Danforth, 1979; Dunk, 1987; Low, 1985; Nichter, 1981).