Mamitis and the Traumas of Development in a Colonia Popular of Mexico City

  • Matthew C. Gutmann


In the working class neighborhood of Santo Domingo, Mexico City, infants and, even more, toddlers are said to suffer from mamitis, mommy-itis, when they are physically separated for too long from their mothers. Mamitis affects children when they are held by others with their mothers nowhere to be seen, as well as when their mothers are in plain view. The expression mamitis is generally used tongue-in-cheek, often with a grin on the speaker’s face. It is not a biomedically recognized diagnosis, although, as we shall see, perceptions of mamitis do reflect the influence of biomedical ideas regarding children’s’ “natural” demands on and attachment to their mothers. Thus, while the term is used in a half-kidding manner, it would be quite wrong to dismiss how seriously the affliction is taken—humor can be used as a way of lamenting the psychological anguish brought on by unpleasant circumstances.


Child Care Domestic Violence Mexico City Corporal Punishment Childhood Trauma 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Dorothy Hodgson 2001

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  • Matthew C. Gutmann

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