Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health

2012 Edition
| Editors: Sana Loue, Martha Sajatovic

Mal de Ojo

  • Konane M. Martinez
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-5659-0_476

Mal de ojo is a Spanish term meaning “evil eye,” which is frequently used to refer to a culturally specific illness common in Latin Americans and Latino immigrants in the United States. The origin of mal de ojo has been traced to the Eastern Mediterranean and Greco-Roman traditions, although many variations of this syndrome have existed for thousands of years. The widespread belief of the evil eye in Latin America is credited to the Spanish colonizers who brought it to the continent, amid combinations that resulted from indigenous and folk-healing systems. In Brazil, the equivalent for the evil eye is called “olho gordo” or “mau olhado,” that is translated as “fat eye.” Among Latin American popular cultures mal de ojo is generally believed to be caused by a strong stare full of jealousy, envy, or admiration directed at either vulnerable or perceived weaker individuals such as women or children. Certainly, babies and infants are considered at special risk for the evil eye, given the...

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Suggested Readings

  1. Avila, E. (1999). Woman who glows in the dark: a curandera reveals traditional Aztec secrets of physical and spiritual health. New York: Penguin Putnam.Google Scholar
  2. Gomez-Beloz, A., & Chavez, N. (2001). The Botánica as a culturally appropriate health care option for Latinos. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 7, 537–546.Google Scholar
  3. Rubel, A. (1960). Concepts of disease in Mexican-American culture. American Anthropologist, 60, 795–814.Google Scholar
  4. Torres, E. (2005). Curandero: a life in Mexican folk healing. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.Google Scholar
  5. Trotter, R. (1997). Curanderismo: Mexican American folk healing. Athens: University of Georgia Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Konane M. Martinez
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyCalifornia State University San MarcosSan MarcosUSA