Tlaxcalan constructions of acute grief.


In rural Tlaxcala, Mexico, the sudden and unexpected death of infants and young children was a relatively common occurrence during the time when this study was conducted. Not surprisingly, the deaths constituted major social tragedies and operated as psychological traumas to the family, especially the parents. Acute grief reactions inevitably resulted and these were suffused with bodily and psychological disturbances of different types, some of which were handled in the society as illness. The article grows out of a longitudinal study about these tragedies to families of the region. Attention is given to the grief reactions of parents, with special emphasis placed on psychological and behavioral manifestations. Of particular interest is the way local, cultural symbols pertaining to the cause of the deaths, which involved the malevolent attack of blood-sucking witches, were configured in the verbalizations and behavioral reactions that comprised the grief reactions. Details of the way symbols entered into the construction of meaningful accounts of the tragedies during the ordeal of the grief reactions are discussed and analyzed. Although the manifestations of grief could be said to have clinical, psychiatric implications, it is the way these manifestations served to explain the tragedies, in the process regulating and restoring social relations, that is given principal attention. A description of one mother's grief reaction is provided as a case illustration.

Cite this paper

@article{Fabrega1994TlaxcalanCO, title={Tlaxcalan constructions of acute grief.}, author={Horacio Fabrega and Hugo Nutini}, journal={Culture, medicine and psychiatry}, year={1994}, volume={18 4}, pages={405-31} }