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Journal of Traumatic Stress

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 529–534 | Cite as

Ataque de Nervios and History of Childhood Trauma

  • Daniel S. Schechter
  • Randall Marshall
  • Ester Salmán
  • Deborah Goetz
  • Sharon Davies
  • Michael R. Liebowitz
Article
  • 63 Downloads

Abstract

Objective: Ataque de nervios is a common, self-labeled Hispanic folk diagnosis. It typically describes episodic, dramatic outbursts of negative emotion in response to a stressor, sometimes involving destructive behavior. Dissociation and affective dysregulation during such episodes suggested a link to childhood trauma. We therefore assessed psychiatric diagnoses, history of ataque, and childhood trauma in treatment-seeking Hispanic outpatients (N = 70). Significantly more subjects with an anxiety or affective disorder plus ataque reported a history of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and/or or a substance-abusing caretaker than those with psychiatric disorder but no ataque. In some Hispanic individuals, ataque may represent a culturally sanctioned expression of extreme affect dysregulation associated with childhood trauma. Patients with ataque de nervios should receive a thorough traumatic history assessment.

ataque de nervios trauma anxiety cross-cultural dissociation 

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Copyright information

© International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel S. Schechter
    • 1
    • 2
  • Randall Marshall
    • 1
  • Ester Salmán
    • 1
  • Deborah Goetz
    • 1
  • Sharon Davies
    • 1
  • Michael R. Liebowitz
    • 1
  1. 1.New York State Psychiatric InstituteColumbia University College of Physicians and SurgeonsNew York
  2. 2.Division of Developmental PsychobiologyNew York State Psychiatric InstituteNew York

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