Mal de pelea (Spanish for "fighting sickness") is an amok-like behaviour observed among Puerto Ricans, that is also known as ataque, hyperkinetic seizure, hysterical psychosis, nervios, and Puerto Rican syndrome.[1]

It is characterised as a dissociative episode in which the affected, after a period of withdrawal and brooding, has a violent, destructive, and sometimes homicidal outburst.[2][3]


  • Gherovici, Patricia: The Puerto Rican Syndrome; Other Press, LLC, 2003. ISBN 9781892746757


  1. García, Jorge G. & Zea, María Cecilia: Psychological interventions and research with Latino populations; Allyn and Bacon, 1997. (p. 125) ISBN 9780205160952
  2. Cartwright, Lorin & Shingles, Rene Revis: Cultural Competence in Sports Medicine; Human Kinetics, 2010. (pp. 278/79) ISBN 9780736072281
  3. Mahoney, J. Michael: Schizophrenia: The Bearded Lady Disease, Vol. 2; AuthorHouse, 2010. (p. 384) ISBN 9781449072001
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