The evil eye in the Hispanic, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern World

I chose the evil eye, or known also as mal de ojo, as a culture bound disease. I did so because it is something interesting and I am somewhat familiar with. The evil eye is a type of a look that is believed by many cultures to be able to cause injury or bad luck for the person that it is intended for. This evil and ill wishing look, causes harm to the person. Usually this is out of one being envious of another. This usually is done unintentionally and affecting those not knowing of whats is going on around them. Many cultures believe in this but vary somewhat differently. The most common form, however, is due to the cause of envy. The effects on victims vary. Some cultures report afflictions with bad luck; others believe the evil eye may cause disease, wasting, or even death. Other medical problems are vomiting, fever, diarrhea, and mental problems like anxiety and or depression. In most cultures, the main victims common among infants and children because of being praised so much when they are young; adults might also experience similar symptoms resulting from this mal de ojo.

Treatment or prevention of this is slightly different from culture to culture and religion. Most of them have some sort of charms or beads of specific blue and white colors eye, whether as bracelets, hand shaped hangers to types hanging on doors of houses. This prevents or turns away the evil spirit of someone putting a curse or envy taking over. To others based on religion and beliefs, they do not have anything but using god as their help. Praying and reciting verses from their Holy book and prayers and only he will help and treat people with the curse of envy.

The evil eye is a big part of the eastern world, where many are affected from minor effects as bad luck, to major issues as sickness, health issues and death. Whatever happens to people its due to others envy and jealousy, but not always intentionally, but nonetheless a harmful effect.


Casabianca, Silvia. Curanderos and ‘mal de ojo,’ an every day reality in Latin America. Saludify, 1 Mar. 2013. Web. 22 July 2013. <>

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Breanna Block says:

    I define culture as a group of people that share pretty similar beliefs. This can include some but not always all of the following: medical choices, educational norms, goals, desires, monetary status, religion and more. I also believe it has a connection to history and location, but not necessarily any biological similarities. I think the most important factor is that the people of that group must recognize themselves as being apart of that group. I believe this should be regarded as a CBD, but I say that because I think it is a really broad term. I think the disadvantages could be misdiagnoses. Someone may think they are cursed and not get the treatment they need, causing their health to get worse and worse. I see some advantages too though, I think this would encourage people not to be so envious, in feat that they could cause real harm. Or maybe it would encourage people not to brag or else they could experience some of the symptoms of the evil eye. I think that this could be perceived to other cultures as something like witchcraft. They could also perceive the symptoms as karma from their actions instead of as punishment from other people.

  2. Danielle Gittleman says:

    I define culture as a group of people living in a similar area that share the same traditions and beliefs. Culture is not based on religious beliefs or race but I think that it has everything to do with the community a person decides to take part in. I don’t think there are any rules or regulations to be a part of a culture, like there are with religion and race. I think that as long as you participate and join in with the people you surround yourself with, anyone can be a part of a community. I do not think that this should be considered a CBD because it seems like the symptom is envy of another person. I do not necessarily believe that being envious to the point of sickness is a disorder. However, if mal de ojo is causing things like depression and anxiety, I do believe it could be considered CBD. Like Breanna mentioned above, CBD is such a broad term and you can throw almost anything under the huge umbrella that is culture based disorders. I think the advantages of describing this as a CBD is that it gives people an excuse to be envious of those in the community around them. However, while this may be positive for those in the community, it does not teach people to take their own lives into their hands. In a different culture, let’s say like in the United States, these people would just be considered envious of those around them and never content with their own lives.

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