Folk concepts for mental disorder were studied among rural Lao people. While predominantly inferring etiology (e.g. spirit-caused disorder), certain terms also emphasized particular descriptive psychopathology or behavioral abnormality. Preventive strategies were stressed for insanity due to "excessive worry" or "broken taboo". These broad folk categories of disorder bore considerable similarity to some psychiatric and neurologic categories within medicine. These includes psychosis, mania, neurosis, organic brain syndrome, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and childhood autism. Lao folk terms for mental disorder also closely resembled those of other southeast Asian cultures, although illiterate tribal peoples appeared to have fewer terms than literate peasant peoples. Folk terms from more distant regions had broad similarity to those of southeast Asia, but lacked the specificity found within the region.