Mental Health Monday–Mal de Ojo


Mal de Ojo (AKA Evil Eye) is a wide spread culture bound syndrome where the victim suffers a curse, injury, or bad luck as the direct result of someone who envies or dislikes them giving an ill-wishing look.

Some evil eyes represent ill-intended use of the “magical eye.” Other evil eyes are unintended when a person is simply envious of another and the jealous stare leads to bad luck.

Some believe Socrates had the evil eye because of his glaring eyes.

Talismans–called Nazars–in the shape of discs made of concentric rings of various shades of blue can ward off the evil eye.

Why do I bring this up during Mental Health Monday?

Partly because it’s interesting and partly because what one thinks is a fanciful belief, another may take as true and literal.

Just goes to show you how varied “normal” can be, right?

What about you? What kind of superstitions do you have?

Check out Lydia’s post and Sarah’s post and remember the information in these posts are for writing purposes ONLY and are NOT to be construed as medical treatment or advice!

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16 comments on “Mental Health Monday–Mal de Ojo

  1. Catherine Johnson says:

    That’s fascinating Laura. I love those blue circles. They could double up as wind chimes 🙂

  2. Sarah says:

    I don’t consider myself superstitious at all, but you never know what someone else sees, looking in from the outside!

  3. Doris says:

    You reminded me of my grandma, who was a firm believer of “el mal de ojo.”
    I don’t believe in such thing, but I ought to confess that instead, I fear jealous people and the “negative energy” that their envious thoughts may generate. I know, it sounds insane…LOL

  4. EArroyo says:

    OMG…my mom. We grew up always asking for her blessing upon waking up or whenever we’ve been away and speak or see her for the first time in the day. Now it’s just automatic. If we don’t we get a knock upside the head. LOL.

    Great post!

  5. lenny says:

    hi dr laura! i got a key chain thats one of those neat looking evil eyes for a present from my cousins from a trip they went on but i forget where they went. for sure i dont think is got evil in it. i just think its cool looking. i dont got any of those super stitions but for sure i believe in ghosts.
    …hugs from lenny

  6. Lydia K says:

    The evil eye thing is funny. I never understood why you have to wear that evil eye thing to keep it away–because it looks like an evil eye, oh whatever. Clearly this isn’t a phobia of mine!

  7. No evil eye thingie going on with me. But my dad could sure give us evil looks when we misbehaved.

  8. Vicki Tremper says:

    I think it’s so cool how widespread the evil eye is. I’m into that kind of cultural phenomenon. And I like varying shades of blue.

  9. Linda Gray says:

    I never heard that about Socrates–fascinating. I own a couple of Turkish jewelry pieces specifically meant to protect against the evil eye. I’m not Turkish, but I figure, hey, it can’t hurt!

  10. J E Fritz says:

    I think it’s fascinating, too. Culture bound mental illnesses are intriguing, to say the least. It’s just amazing how something like Evil Eye syndrome or Wendigo syndrome will only show up in certain places. We humans might forget that as beings who live in a society, its as much a part of us as we are of it.

  11. roguemutt says:

    I was reading Dracula recently, where it references the “Evil Eye” Romanians were scared of. In another book, ancient Britons would spit to avoid evil. The only time I’m really superstitious though is if one of my sports teams is in the playoffs. When the Red Wings were on their way to winning the Stanley Cup three years ago I didn’t shave throughout the run. Not that it really did anything. I suppose it’s just our way of trying to feel in control of largely random events.

  12. ketmakkura says:

    It’s sad that I was so excited that I could actually read “mal de ojo” before you translated it. Go, two years of middle school Spanish.

    Interestingly, my GM at work carries a bundle of eyes on her keychain. When I asked, she said it was to ward off the evil eye.

  13. There’s a tree near our house that has an evil eye. I kid you not. It’s really cool and is the possible inspiration behind my next novel. 😀

  14. Donna Hole says:

    If I talk about getting some extra money in front of my car, it will break down just to get its fair share of the windfall.

    Hehe, I think I could use this evil eye thing in my women’s fiction series. At least when I’m playing around with outside stories for my character Cal. He associates with a lot of undocumented hispanics in his constructions business and his illicit drug dealings. This would be cool in one of his extended drug runs. A very intriguing malady.

    I love learning different cultural quirks. Thanks for sharing this one.

    …….dhole

  15. I’m superstitious on a shallow level: like finding four leaf clovers and I really do feel luckier when I pick up a heads-up penny, especially if it’s shiny. Little things like that. Those evil eyes are pretty and creepy, if that’s possible.

  16. aparnanairphotography says:

    Indian people protect newborn babies from the evil eye by drawing a big ugly mole on their faces with an eyeliner pencil. The mole always has to be huge, pitch-black, and asymmetric. I think the mentality is that an attractive mole might even exacerbate the evil eye.

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