How to Cure Trauma

“When a person is startled by something, whatever it is, it is a custom to give the person three spanks on their butt and a glass of water so they don’t have further psychological trauma.

During the Guatemalan earthquake of 1976, the entire country was in shock. I remember being 5 years old, my whole house being crushed to the ground. The dogs were still barking and children were screaming. After much time, I still had nightmares about the intense shaking and being locked in the house. My mother gave me three spanks on my bottom and a glass of water. I continued to have nightmares, so they took me to a medicine woman. I was crawling on my knees around the room in circles, holding a candle. The medicine woman made me chant prayers. She said that if I had strong faith, I’ll get better…I stopped having night terrors after that.

Context/Analysis: The informant first heard this back in Guatemala, before he had immigrated to America. Now that he is here, he has much more access to western medicine as opposed to herbal medicines and Curanderia. It is significant to them because it indicates how they managed to overcome the trauma of the Guatemalan Earthquake of 1976, which made global headlines. Ultimately, this tradition is part of his heritage. Though he does not practice it today, it is still something he remembers dearly.