4 Main Spiritual Illnesses


What are Maya Spiritual Illnesses?

Spiritual Healing is an indigenous healing tradition, seeped in history and ritual. Holistic by its very nature, Maya medicine recognizes the connection between physical ills of the body and diseases of the soul and one’s attitudes toward life and living.

The Maya believe one’s Life Force, or ch’ulel, can be disrupted by 4 main spiritual illnesses: Susto (Fear or Fright) Pesar (Grief or Loss), Tristeza (Sadness or Depression) or lnvidia (Envy or Jealousy). It is a main goal for the Maya healer to balance the flow of ch’ulel in the body.

Susto (Fear or Fright)

Susto best translates as fright or trauma and is universally experienced by each of us at some time in our lives. Susto is one of the manifestations of “soul loss”, when the life force, or ch’ulel, is frightened out of the body by some traumatic event.

Susto in adults can be caused by: accidents or near accident, rape, incest, sexual abuse, domestic violence, witnessing a murder or violent death, violent movies, being mugged or robbed, sudden bad news, fires, explosions, tornadoes, hurricanes, war, sudden falls, extended fear of loss of income, property or job. Susto can result in sleep disturbances, stress, indigestion, pale skin color, and overall lack of interest in life. Fear can be a constant companion and one may be plagued by frightening nightmares.

The loss of ch’ulel affects the efficiency of the immune system, circulation, digestion, elimination, and the nervous systems.

Pesar (Grief or Loss)

Like Susto, Pesar can happen to everyone because we all experience loss of some sort during a lifetime. Pesar is caused by loss of what is dear to us due to death, fire, natural disasters, a broken heart, being fired from a job or losing a career position. The most common symptom of Pesar is a deep, mournful sigh that seems to come for no known reason and is rather constant. There may also be changes for the worse in personality, nightmares of abandonment, and a strong sense of hopelessness mixed with vague depression.

Tristeza (Sadness or Depression)

Tristeza is sadness or depression that seems to linger for years, or has been with the person for as long as they can remember. People suffering from Tristeza may have felt unwanted or unloved as babies, abused in early life, or experienced a series of peer rejections at school. They cannot find their true path or passion in life, feel isolated, alienated, and have a sense that life has been unfair to them. They have trouble getting started in the morning, sleep excessively, drink too much, abuse drugs, and struggle with relationships and successful careers.

lnvidia (Envy or Jealousy)

lnvidia translates as envy or jealousy. The victims of envy feel their present lifestyle must change in order for them to find happiness. They feel discontent with their spouse, job, home, friends and/or hobbies.

Envy has a thousand manifestations on the emotional, physical, and spiritual plane. Those suffering from Invidia are dejected, pale, and depressed and cannot say why. A fast-beating heart is common, with sudden palpitations that can be quite frightening and mimic heart conditions. Physical symptoms of Invidia include skin conditions, indigestion, lack of appetite, sleeplessness, nightmares, hearing voices, and an array of unexplained health problems.


Excerpted from Traditional Healing Approaches to Modern Psychiatric Disorders – Dr. Rosita Arvigo, DN