Ethnomedicine and Ethnobotany of Fright, a Caribbean Culture-bound Psychiatric Syndrome
Quinlan, Marsha B.
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"Fright" is an English-speaking Caribbean idiom for an illness, or ethnomedical syndrome, of persistent distress. A parallel ethnopsychiatric idiom exists in the French Antilles as sésisma. Fright is distinct from susto among Hispanics, though both develop in the wake of traumatic events. West Indian ethnophysiology (ethnoanatomy) theorizes that an overload of stressful emotions (fear, panic, anguish or worry) causes a cold humoral state in which blood coagulates causing prolonged distress and increased risks of other humorally cold illnesses. Qualitative data on local explanatory models and treatment of fright were collected using participant-observation, informal key informant interviews and a village health survey. Ethnobotanical and epidemiological data come from freelist (or "free-list") tasks, analyzed for salience, with nearly all adults (N = 112) of an eastern village in Dominica, and a village survey on medicinal plant recognition and use (N = 106).