What Is Culture Bound Syndrome

Recognizing Mental Illness in Culture-bound Syndromes

Paleolithic people from the Asian mainland first arrived in Japan around 35,000 years ago. A civilisation known as the Jomon arose towards the conclusion of the last Ice Age, around 10,000 years ago. The Jomon hunter-gatherers created intricate clay containers, as well as fur garments and timber dwellings. According to DNA testing, the Ainu people are believed to be descended from the Jomon peoples. The Yayoi people brought metalworking, rice farming, and weaving to Japan during their second wave of colonization.

Japanese history begins with the Kofun period (A.D.

Many Chinese practices and inventions were borrowed by the Kofun, who were ruled by an elite warrior class.

Clans were established during this time in civilization.

  1. Buddhism and Chinese calligraphy were practiced by the aristocratic class, whilst Shintoism was embraced by agricultural people.
  2. With its art, poetry, and literature the imperial court left an indelible mark on history.
  3. After the emperor abdicated in 1185, samurai lords known as “shoguns” seized control and continued to rule Japan in the name of the monarchy until 1868.
  4. The Kamakura was able to resist raids by the Mongol armadas in 1274 and 1281 thanks to the assistance of two miraculous typhoons in the region.
  5. This period saw the rise of a powerful class of regional lords known as “daimyo,” who ruled until the end of the Edo period (also known as the Tokugawa Shogunate), which occurred in 1868.
  6. The shoguns’ hegemony was finally overthrown.
  7. Inability to perform his duties due to chronic ailments permitted the country’s legislature to introduce new democratic changes while he was absent.
  8. Japan’s aggressive expansion during World War II, its capitulation, and its rebirth as a modern, industrialized nation were all overseen by the Emperor of Japan, Hirohito.

Case Scenario

During a visit to our university’s student health clinic, a 24-year-old graduate student from Japan expressed worry about his body odor. He had been complaining about an objectionable body odor for several months, and he explained to me that he had washed every day and tried a slew of different deodorants without result. His oral hygiene was likewise of the highest caliber. Despite the fact that he had been in the United States for a year, he had established few genuine friends. Despite the fact that none of his fellow students expressed any concern, he became increasingly embarrassed about his situation and seldom entered his apartment except to attend courses.

  1. A study of systems revealed that there was difficulties falling asleep as well as a weak appetite, but that there was no weight reduction.
  2. He denied having ever suffered from depression, substance misuse, or scholastic difficulties.
  3. He, on the other hand, insisted that he needed to get rid of his foul body odor as soon as possible.
  4. He had a distant demeanor and an apprehensive, melancholy demeanor.
  5. After talking with the patient, I came to the conclusion that he was plainly sad, and that his state of mind was likely compounded by social anxiety and adjustment disorder (culture shock).
  6. When the patient’s illness was attributed to mental health difficulties rather than a physical reason, he got extremely disturbed, which led to his hospitalization.

He did, however, agree to schedule a follow-up visit for a second opinion on the matter. How do I assist a foreign patient in managing his or her mental illness, particularly when the patient’s or visitor’s culture stigmatizes the condition?


When it comes to international students from cultures where mental illness is stigmatized, somatic symptoms frequently take the place of emotional problems. Following the exclusion of physical diseases and the confirmation of the diagnosis of underlying depression, the following step is even more difficult: persuading the patient to participate in therapy. In the instance of this patient, truly reframing the diagnosis as culture shock or even as a chemical imbalance may make the decision to begin treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) more palatable to the patient.

  1. When the patient is introduced to the counselor at the time of the visit, it will be easier for them to have a personal connection with them and they will be more likely to maintain their future visits.
  2. One common misconception is that mental disease is incurable, and therapy is only considered for people suffering from incurable mental illness.
  3. Because of the stigma associated with mental illness, such difficulties are more commonly manifested as physical symptoms than as mood disorders in the general population.
  4. Traditional somatic symptoms (culture-bound syndromes) are present in many cultures and might be indicative of psychological distress to the culturally sensitive clinician.
  5. 3In its literal translation, the disorder(sho)of dread(kyofu)of interpersonal relations(taijin), subtype offensive, refers to the patient’s fear of offending others in interpersonal relationships.
  6. It is regarded a pathological exaggeration of this effort.
  7. ishwa-byungin Korean ladies are yet another example of a condition that is culturally confined.

6,7 Although emotional discomfort can both symbolically and physically produce “heartache” in the Western world, it is more likely to cause stomach pain in the East, where the gut is considered to be the “home of the soul,” according to traditional beliefs.

First-generation immigrants are the ones who are most inclined to adhere to these cultural assumptions, according to research.

Consequently, the son or daughter of an Asian immigrant may have less trouble in getting mental health treatment if and when they require it.

Culture-bound syndromes are characterized by a wide range of psychological, physical, and behavioral symptoms that manifest themselves only in certain cultural contexts and are clearly recognized as sickness behavior by the majority of people who are exposed to that culture.

In order to better understand a patient’s cultural identity, the illness’s explanatory models, as well as cultural barriers to treatment, clinicians should collect this information.

10 Mail should be addressed directly to Gregory Juckett, M.D., MPH, [email protected] The writers are unable to provide reprints of their work. Disclosure from the author: There is nothing to share.


Foreign-born students from cultures where mental illness is stigmatized typically have somatic symptoms in place of emotional concerns. Following the exclusion of physical diseases and the confirmation of the diagnosis of underlying depression, the following step is even more difficult: convincing the patient to consent to therapy. To make initiating a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) more acceptable in this patient’s scenario, it may be necessary to honestly reinterpret the diagnosis as cultural shock or even as a chemical imbalance.

  1. When the patient is introduced to the counselor at the time of the visit, it will be easier for them to have a personal connection with them and they will be more likely to maintain their scheduled sessions in the future.
  2. One common misconception is that mental disease is incurable, and therapy is only considered for people suffering from incurable mental illnesses.
  3. Patients’ reluctance to maintain counseling sessions can be explained in this way, but many patients may be too polite to refuse the appointment out of hand.
  4. It is rare that the patient is deceiving himself or herself in this way.
  5. A fear of offending people because of socially uncomfortable conduct or an imagined bodily offense is characterized as taijin-kyofusho in Japanese culture (e.g., body odor).
  6. A common tradition in Japanese culture, taijin-kyofusho is defined as an exaggerated attempt to avoid offending others in social situations.
  7. It appears that emotional discomfort increases the severity of this characteristic, resulting in a crippling social phobia that may be treated with SSRIs.
  8. The symptoms of this condition include complaints of a painful, but nonpalpable, abdominal mass.

6,7 Although emotional strain can produce “heartache” both symbolically and physically in the West, it is more likely to cause stomach discomfort in the East, where the gut is believed to be the “place of the soul.” Many futile gastrointestinal examinations have failed to detect and address underlying mental suffering.

It gets less difficult to accept the methods to health care in the United States as one grows more acclimated to their surroundings.

In order to understand why bodily manifestations of psychiatric disorder are not uncommon in our own culture, it is helpful to recall that mental illness was once stigmatized in American culture.

8 In appendix I of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision, the Cultural Formulation model is described as a five-component, case-based narrative that includes a cultural identity assessment, explanations of illness, factors related to the psychosocial environment, cultural elements of the physician-patient relationship, and the overall impact of culture on diagnosis and care.

In order to better understand a patient’s cultural identity, the illness’s explanatory models, as well as cultural barriers to treatment, clinicians should gather these information.

10 Write to Gregory Juckett, MD, MPH at [email protected] or [email protected] The writers do not offer reprints of their work. No information about the author is required.

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Culture-Bound Disorders – Culture and Psychology

In medicine and medical anthropology, aculture-bound syndrome, culture-specific syndrome, or folk illness refers to a combination of psychiatric (brain) and somatic (body) symptoms that are considered to be a recognizable disease only within a specific society or culture, as opposed to a more general syndrome. Body organs or functions do not show any objective biochemical or anatomical changes, and the sickness is not recognized in other cultures as a result. American Psychiatric Association, 1994), which also contains a list of the most prevalent culture-bound diseases.

According to the ICD-10 (Chapter V) classification system, culture-specific illnesses are characterized by the following characteristics:

  • Categorization is seen as an illness in contemporary culture. The culture is well-known to a large number of people. People from different cultures have a complete lack of acquaintance with or comprehension of the problem. In the absence of objectively detectable biochemical or tissue abnormalities
  • Traditional folk medicine in the culture is typically capable of recognizing and treating the disease

The presence of somatic symptoms (pain or impaired function of a physical component) is common in certain culture-specific disorders, whereas others are strictly behavioral. Some culture-bound illnesses manifest themselves with characteristics that are comparable across cultures, yet with characteristics that are particular to the society in question. The phrase “culture-bound syndrome” is debatable since it represents the divergent viewpoints of anthropologists and psychiatrists on the subject of mental illness.

  • Dhatsyndromeis a condition found in the cultures of the Indian subcontinent in which male patients report that they suffer from premature ejaculation or impotence, and believe that they are passing semen in their urine
  • Zaris the term for a demon or spirit believed to possess individuals, mostly women, and cause discomfort or illness
  • Dhatsyndromeis a condition found in the cultures of the Indian subcontinent in which male patients report that they suffer from premature ejaculation or impot Susto is a cultural sickness that is prevalent in the civilizations of the Horn of Africa and surrounding parts of the Middle East
  • It is most prevalent in Latin American cultures. As defined by the American Psychological Association, it is a state of fear and “chronic somatic discomfort resulting from emotional trauma or from witnessing traumatic events suffered by others.”

Over the previous decade, social changes such as technology breakthroughs and growing globalization have widened cross-cultural effects while simultaneously reducing the level of cultural segregation. Recent revisions to the DSM-5 (which have decreased the number of illnesses from 25 to 9) and the ICD-11 indicate a shift away from focusing on culturally specific diseases and toward a deeper understanding of cultural effects. The findings of some researchers (Ventriglio, Ayonrinde, and Bhugra, 2016) suggest that our perception of really culturally distinct situations is called into doubt as a result of this interconnectivity.

Rather of focusing on illnesses that are unique to various cultures, the focus has shifted to better understanding the manifestation of symptoms and sources of distress within each culture in order to enhance healthcare and treatment.

Culture-Bound Disorders



It is defined as a pattern of symptoms (mental, physical, and/or relational) that is experienced by members of a certain cultural group and is recognized as a disorder by members of that community. In addition to somatic manifestations (such as temporary loss of consciousness or involuntarily clenched teeth), cognitions (such as the belief that one’s genitals are retracting into the body or the conviction that one has been abducted by extraterrestrial beings) and behaviors (such as a belief that one’s genitals are retracting into the body) can accompany culture-bound disorders (e.g., extreme startle responses, coprophagia, or speaking in tongues).

Such occurrences are also referred to as culture-bound syndrome, culture-specific condition, and folk ailment, among other labels.

There are other instances, including amok, latah, and koro (in regions of Southeast Asia), semen loss ordhat (in East India), brain fag (in West Africa), ataque de nerviosandsusto (in Latin America), falling out (in the United States’ South and Caribbean), and pibloktoq (in the Arctic).


  1. This organization is the American Psychiatric Association (2000). Manual of diagnostic and statistical procedures for mental diseases (4th ed.). Author’s office in Washington, DC. Text modification. Crozier, I. (Google Scholar)
  2. Crozier, I. (2011). Making up koro: Multiple identities, psychiatry, culture, and penis-shrinking worries are all part of the process. Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, vol. 67, no. 3, pp. 36–70 PubMed The following sources: Google Scholar
  3. Fernando, S. (2003). Diversity in culture, mental health, and psychiatry: The fight against racism. Brunner-Routledge is based in New York. Hacking, I., and Google Scholar (2006). Making up persons is something I like doing. The London Review of Books, vol. 28, no. 16–17, pp. 23–26. G. Obeyesekere’s Google Scholar page (1985). Depression, Buddhism, and the work of culture in Sri Lanka are all explored in this book. The book Culture and Depression (edited by A. Kleinman and B. Good) has 134–152 pages. The University of California Press is located in Berkeley, California. Google Scholar is an excellent resource.

Copyright information

Springer Science+Business Media New York, New York, New York, 2014

Authors and Affiliations

Although recent revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-51) may have eliminated the phrase “culture-bound syndromes,” the word continues to be used in many regions of the world. In the 1950s and 1960s, these illnesses were seen as exotic, foreign, and indigenous disorders associated with societies that were considered to be less mentally developed. Over the years, many of these syndromes have been documented from a variety of civilizations, each with its own idioms of anguish to describe their symptoms.

For most of history, conquerors saw people who were being controlled as exotic indigenous who, while maybe not particularly mentally developed, were still naïve and interesting to see.

In many health-care systems, the emphasis is on social issues rather than biological elements, and even when the body is harmed, social factors are considered to have a significant part in the outcome.


Culture-bound psychogenic psychoses were initially described by Yap2, and the phrase “culture-bound syndromes” was then reduced to “culture-bound syndromes.” 3 According to the researchers, these were ‘strange and unusual behaviors that were unpredictable and chaotic at their heart among uncivilized people.’ There is no question that this was a reflection of the current diagnostic methods, which were notoriously difficult to categorize at the time.

According to Bhugra and Jacob4, these behaviors were identified with just a limited grasp of the cultural context in which they occurred.

Our discussion in this article will focus on the history and contemporary state of culture-bound syndromes, with the example of dhat (a condition of semen-loss concern that is quite frequent in the Indian subcontinent) serving as an illustration.

Nosological timeline

Yap was the first to identify psychogenic psychoses that are culturally connected in 1962. 2 Seven years later, he changed the phrase to culture-bound syndromes, and since then, other similar syndromes have been described and examined. In 1992, the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-105), and 15 years later, the DSM-51abandoned the word to replace it with cultural ideas of distress (see the study by Ayonrinde and Bhugra for further discussion). 6 What does it truly mean to be “culture-bound”?

With rising globalization, it is particularly important to note that the conventional barriers between cultures are becoming more permeable, and that cultural variables are becoming more dispersed and more accessible.

The fast expansion in the usage of social media and the interconnectedness that has resulted from expanded and rapid access to media, especially the Internet, has added another confusing and complex layer to the world we live in.

Culture-bound Syndromes in the Diagnostic Manuals (DSM and ICD)

It has been suggested that the emergence of culture-bound syndromes may be a reflection of the emergence of Western diagnostic and classification systems, as well as the long-standing effect of colonialism on society. It is possible that recent changes in the DSM-51 signal a move away from these criteria. These syndromes have been employed in somewhat different ways by the two major psychiatric classification systems over the years. Interestingly, the ICD-10,5 which is a more culturally sensitive classification system, recognises that these symptoms are difficult to categorize and that they are difficult to classify into groups.

ICD-10 (1992)

The International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-105) acknowledges a variety of culturally atypical symptom patterns and presentations referred to as ‘culture-specific diseases.’ While accepting that these sydromes have a variety of traits, there are two qualities that they always share:

  1. Consequently, they are difficult to include into existing and worldwide diagnostic categories. In their first description, they are associated with a certain demographic or cultural region, and their continuing relationship is with the same group or culture.

Although cautious and uncertain links between cultural syndromes and recognized psychiatric categories have been established by the ICD-10, the difficulty remains that they are culture-specific symptoms that cannot be generalized. We contend that these have been documented from other civilizations as well, and that they are not exclusive.

DSM-IV-TR (2000)

Seven culture-bound syndromes were identified in the DSM-IV-TR as recurrent, location-specific patterns of aberrant behavior and unpleasant experience that might be associated with any DSM-IV diagnostic category or could be unrelated to any diagnostic category at all. The following features were identified as being critical in the development of culture-bound syndromes:

  1. Seven culture-bound syndromes were identified in the DSM-IV-TR as recurrent, location-specific patterns of aberrant behavior and unpleasant experience that might be associated with any DSM-IV diagnostic category or could be unrelated to any diagnostic category. These traits were considered to be critical in the development of culture-bound disorders.
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In the DSM-IV-TR,7culture-bound syndromes were defined as recurrent, location-specific patterns of aberrant behavior and unpleasant experience that may or may not be associated with a specific DSM-IV diagnostic category. The following features were identified as being critical for the development of culture-bound syndromes:

Changes in the Diagnostic Manuals (DSM and ICD)

For a period of time, the number of culture-bound syndromes increased from 25 syndromes in the DSM-IV-TR to nine syndromes in the DSM-5, but the number has since decreased to nine in the DSM-5. Various questions have been expressed concerning the diagnostic validity of culture-bound disorders, which is not surprising given their prevalence. 8,9 Culture-bound syndromes are impacted by cultural factors, and we would argue that they are also influenced by the health-care systems in place. Semen-loss anxiety has been recorded from various regions of the globe, and it is characterized by the loss of semen as a result of nocturnal discharges or masturbation.

Dhat, or Semen-Loss Anxiety Syndrome, in the Indian Sub-Continent

Dhat, also known as semen-loss anxiety syndrome, is characterized by symptoms of semen-loss that are accompanied by complaints of weakness and worry. The worddhatu is derived from the Sanskrit worddhatu, which literally translates as “metal in Sanskrit” and is also used as a slang name for sperm in English. When Wig and colleagues from north India published their first description of the syndrome in 1960, they noted that it was characterized by numerous vague somatic complaints such as weakness, fatigue and anxiety as well as loss of appetite and sexual dysfunction, all of which were thought to be caused by semen loss following masturbation, nocturnal emissions, or micturition.

Semen production was described as follows in these texts: ‘.food turns to blood, which changes to flesh, which converts to marrow, and finally to semen.’ Food is described as follows in these texts: Considering that each of these stages is expected to take 40 days12, sperm is extremely valuable.

  • It is possible that these therapies will have the same effect as a placebo since the practitioners will be able to recognize and grasp the cultural context.
  • Attitudes about masculinity, male sex roles, procreation, and fertility are all factors that contribute to the development of such anxiety.
  • Various dietary supplements, such as corn flakes and crackers, were promoted and sold as a cure for menstrual anxiety.
  • It will be vital to investigate whether such worry has vanished from industrialized countries and what role, if any, globalization is likely to play in removing such fears, or whether, on the other hand, it may serve to exacerbate them even more.
  • Even if the DSM-5 has made the necessary steps to recognize culture-bound syndromes or culture-specific expressions of distress as a range of illnesses, the future of these syndromes or manifestations of distress remains dubious.
  • A number of cases from other regions of the world have been reported as well.

We feel that psychiatry as a profession urgently need a discourse on the relative merits of universalist and relativist classification schemes.


As a result of interconnectedness and globalization, cultures are changing in many areas of the world, and it is vital that physicians remain aware of the changes that are occurring in their respective communities. We believe that it is quite likely that culture-bound disorders will no longer be culturally bound but will instead be culturally impacted in the near future. It is possible that as a result of globalization, the ensuing and connected industrialization and urbanization may result in changes related to a shift towards cultures being more contemporary and less traditional, which in turn may alter perceptions and idioms of suffering.

In the wake of globalization, we expect that greater understanding across cultures would result in more balanced and nuanced approaches to diagnostic categories.


There are no conflicts of interest among the writers. They did not get any cash or research rewards for their work on this publication.

Culture Bound Syndrome, or Folk Illness-SacWellness

The 18th of January, 2018 Angela Borders contributed to this article. In addition to helping individuals find therapists and therapists find clients, one of our aims at SacWellness is to serve as an educational resource. Recently, a topic came up in conversation about which we wanted to spend some additional time thinking, discussing, and sharing: culture bound disorders. Despite the fact that many people have never heard of culture bound disorders, the notion that some ailments are only found in certain geographical places surely stimulates debate.

What are the forces at play?

Bringing up the subject of culturally bound disorders may lead to a slew of intriguing discussions on culture, diversity, and mental health in many parts of the world.

Whatareculture bound syndromes (or “folk illnesses”)?

A culturally bound syndrome, according to ThePsychiatric Times, is defined as “local explanations for any of a wide assortment of misfortunes” and as “in a cultural setting in which there is a particular folk illness, both the experience and the behaviors of the ill person are going to shaped by that patient’s understanding of that illness.” That is, because of distinct cultural norms, habits, and prevalent viewpoints, the experiences of people who live in a certain location are affected by their environment, including their mental health concerns, and vice versa.

This may seem simple when we consider that our daily environments influence our mood and overall health on a continuous basis, but many people find it shocking and intriguing that whole areas have mental health concerns that are specific to that location.

The following video provides a quick overview of the history of psychology as well as an explanation of how illnesses and mental health concerns are diagnosed, categorised, and addressed within the profession.

In the first place, they don’t often fit cleanly into the diagnosis and criteria for mental diseases that we find in locations outside of the cultures in which they are found. Another reason is that they can occasionally manifest bodily symptoms that are absent from most mental diseases.

What are some examples of culture bound syndromes?

There are a small number of ailments that are exclusive to a culture, many of which are thoroughly stated, investigated, and characterized in medical diagnostic tools. Because of time constraints, we will only mention a handful, just for the purpose of serving as illustrations: Ghost Sickness, Koro, and Taijin kyofusho are all titles in the Ghost Sickness series.

Ghost Sickness

Ghost illness is a culturally specific condition that associates mental and bodily difficulties with visitations from or other connections to a departed person or a death in the family. A number of case reports of ghost disease are described in the essay “Ghost Illness: A Cross-Cultural Experience with the Expression of a Non-Western Tradition in Clinical Practice” by Robert W. Putsch, MD, who practices in the United Kingdom. It is mentioned in one of them that the patient developed arthritis after taking part in a healing ritual and receiving what she believes to be a visit from her departed father.

  • She was able to pinpoint the beginning of her sickness to a precise day in the previous fall, the morning after she had had a visit from her recently dead father.
  • opened my eyes.
  • Towards the end of the interview, she shared her thoughts about an incident that she believed may have led to her sickness.
  • When she was admitted to the hospital, this occurrence occurred around three months previous to the ceremony, which was being held in honor of a person who had various arthritic symptoms.
  • It is a widespread tradition among Salish communities to brush healers and participants in healing activities off their shoulders.
  • Putsch discusses how therapy for this woman, as well as the other patients, including healing rites, spiritual direction, and a degree of cultural awareness that was necessary for such treatment to be successful.
  • After many decades of marriage, the service would serve as an irrevocable symbol and confirmation that her spouse was no longer alive, and that her husband had passed away.
  • In order to participate in the ceremony, the patient was asked to sing her father’s spirit song, to give up something, and to assist with the ceremonial procedure.

Despite serious challenges with active rheumatoid arthritis, the service was successfully performed two months later, and the patient participated with zeal despite his terrible symptoms.” The recommendation to sing in church is not something most people would consider standard treatment for arthritis, but it is an excellent illustration of how treating a culturally bound condition demands paying close attention to cultural expectations and considerations as well as medical ones.


A culture-bound condition, Koro is a particularly unique kind of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), (albeit it reminds us of our recent piece on “pure O” OCDAs it does not always require compulsions) that has been identified in the Japanese population. Patients who are suffering with koro have an unusual fascination with their genitalia. According to the European Psychiatry, it is “a culturally connected disease marked by severe fear that the penis (vulva or nipples in females) is shrinking or retracting and will withdraw into the body.

Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders is a disorder that affects more men than women and is classed as such.” It appears as if this culture-bound sickness is particularly remarkable since it is so peculiar and unique to that particular region.

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The article in European Psychiatry goes on to discuss how persons who suffer from this disease believe that their worth would be diminished as a result of the high value placed on reproductive ability.

Taijin kyofusho

Taijin kyofusho is a type of anxiety that is characterized by someone feeling as though they will be a burden to others as a result of humiliating themselves in front of other people. This might be due to physical causes such as blushing or just having awkward physical interactions, or it can be due to the act of acting or feeling ridiculous. According to the authors of Unusual and Rare Psychological Disorders: A Handbook for Clinical Practice and Research, “Prototypical taijin kyofusho symptoms are more other directed (e.g., ‘I will offend others or make them uncomfortable’), in contrast to egocentric fears found in social anxiety disorder (e.g., ‘I will embarrass myself’), This is described as a “particularly Japanese” sort of anxiousness by the blogtofugu, which begs the question of why it may be associated with Japanese culture.

We don’t want to generalize about any culture at any time, but it is widely known that traditional Japanese society is characterized by a high level of decorum and formality, and we can’t help but wonder whether this is a contributing element.

How do attitudes and treatment differ?

In order to properly diagnose and treat these disorders and others like it, cultural sensitivity and knowledge are essential components of the process. Additionally, it is possible that physical problems, rather than psychological ones, may need to be addressed. All of this implies that culture-bound disorders, sometimes known as “folk diseases,” require unique consideration and understanding.

Here’s an excellent Ted Talk video that explains how cultural awareness and attention are required not only in the case of culturally bound disorders, but in all facets of mental health:

Why talk about this now?

While our world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and we are acquiring an ever deeper awareness of one another, it is important to take a step back and recognize that we still have a great deal to learn about one another’s lives. There is a great deal of variation on the giant blue marble we name Earth, whether it be in terms of language, history, culture, or even something as simple as culture bound disorders. Understanding that perspective and that there is always more to learn and comprehend might be intimidating, but we hope that remembering these things will instead serve as an inspiration to remain humble and actively seek out new knowledge.

By looking at various cultures, we can often broaden our viewpoint and learn more about ourselves and our surroundings.

If so, you’ve come to the right place.

The controversy over ‘culture-bound’ mental illnesses

Kim Hong for Reuters JiPibloktoq, which translates as “arctic hysteria,” is a Greenlandic Inuit word meaning “arctic hysteria.” This past Sunday, the Boston Globe published an interesting and intriguing story on the controversial concept of “culture-bound syndromes,” mental diseases that have been diagnosed by the medical community as existing solely within a specific country or culture. Its author, Latif Nasser, a PhD candidate in the history of science department at Harvard University, provides various examples of these ailments, including cancer and diabetes.

  • Dhat, or “Indian subcontinent hysteria,” is a syndrome characterized by the fear that one’s soul has panicked and fled one’s body. Other syndromes include pibloktoq, or “arctic hysteria,” (“in which Greenlandic Inuit strip off all their clothes and run out into the subzero Arctic tundra”)
  • Koro, or “genital organ retractions,” (“the fear that one’s genital organs are Among the many symptoms reported by Indian men are headaches, forgetfulness, and constipation, which they explain to a deficiency in the crucial fluid known as semen”)
  • As well as brain fag, a West African condition in which university students suddenly lose their ability to read while simultaneously complaining of symptoms such as scorching scalp, hazy eyesight, and sexual dysfunction, among other things (Fagis slang forfatigue.)

The current (1994) version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM) contains a seven-page appendix that lists about 25 culture-bound disorders. The DSM is now undergoing an update, and the appendix is being revised (itself ahighly controversialundertaking). In the words of Nasser, “resolving the dilemma of what to do with this appendix has proven to be a difficult matter to tackle.” It’s not because no one knows whether pibloktoq is a genuine thing, although that is still an open topic, but because no one knows what it is.

  • And if, when it comes to the intersection of culture and human psychology, it’s time to start thinking of the West as a culture in its own right.
  • Kellogg’s corn flakes was the first of its kind in the world.
  • “So, what exactly is going on here?” Nasser inquires.
  • … if underlying mental disease is universal, then it is likely that what appears to be a “culture-bound sickness” is in fact a common problem that manifests itself differently in different cultures.

The complete text of Nasser’s piece may be seen on the Boston Globe website.

Culture-bound syndromes in Aboriginal Australian populations

ABSTRACTThe purpose of this research is to report the validation of culture-bound symptoms with Aboriginal individuals from urban (N=34) and rural (N=31) settings. While culture-bound syndromes have long been explored in the international literature (e.g., CuellarPaniagua, 2000), this is the first time that the term has been used in the United States (2000). Syndromes that are culturally bound, cultural variance, and psychopathology are all discussed. Published empirical research on Aboriginal Australian communities is still lacking, according to I.

  1. Cuellar and A.
  2. Paniagua (Eds., Handbook of multicultural mental health, Academic Press, pp.142–170).
  3. It has substantial implications for ensuring that Indigenous peoples receive culturally and clinically competent evaluation in the context of rising incidence of Indigenous suicide and mental health.
  4. The third stage entailed doing a critical examination of the DSM-IV Outline for Cultural Formulation (“OCF”) in the context of Aboriginal Australian culture and history.
  5. Conclusions: Finally, an adaption of the OCF is proposed in order to allow physicians to conduct clinically and culturally valid assessments of Aboriginal patients.
  6. IMPORTANT POINTS What is already known about this subject is as follows: (1) A tiny number of articles have referenced anecdotal evidence of the occurrence of culture-bound disorders as a source of information.
  7. (3) The DSM-IV Outline for Cultural Formulation (“OCF”) provides advice for practitioners in the formulation of culture-bound syndromes, as well as for researchers.
  8. (2) Confirms the uniformity of symptom presentation across urban and rural Aboriginal Australian settings.

Disclosure statement

The authors have no financial or other interests in this project that they wish to declare.

Culture-Bound Syndrome definition

In the medical community, culturally-bound condition is defined as an ailment or a combination of symptoms that is only recognized as a disease or disorder within a given culture or group. In any other nation or culture, it is not regarded as a mental illness or problem. Among the various culture-bound illnesses mentioned in the DSM-IV is ‘running amok,’ which is defined as a spontaneous, violent, and destructive attack against people or against the environment. It is most commonly observed in those who have had a period of reclusive behavior or broodiness.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, does not expressly contain the phrase “culture-bound condition,” but it strives to describe this notion in a new and less culturally biased approach.

khyâl assault (also known as a “wind attack”) is another example of this notion that has been incorporated in the DSM-V and occurs among the Cambodian population.

It can be triggered by a variety of factors such as fear, concern, standing up, travelling in a vehicle, and large groups of people. The attack is described in terms that are distinctive to Cambodian culture, as does their understanding of the condition and its manifestations.

ERIC – ED541434 – Japanese Culture-Bound Disorders: The Relationship between “Taijin Kyofusho, Hikikomori,” and Shame, Online Submission, 2013-Aug

Japanese Culture-Bound Disorders: The Relationship between “Taijin Kyofusho,” “Hikikomori,” and Shame in Japan When it was first proposed in the 1960s, the phrase “culture-bound illnesses” referred to a categorization of mental diseases or syndromes that were thought to be specifically or closely tied to cultural elements and/or particular ethnocultural groups at the time of their occurrence. Because of their high incidence in Japanese society, two culture-bound diseases, “taijin kyofusho” and “hikikomori,” have piqued the interest of scholars and experts in the country.

Anxiety in social and interpersonal circumstances, as well as avoidance of such events, are defined by the sensation of flushing, eye-to-eye contact, bodily deformities, and/or the emission of body odor in order to avoid upsetting others.

It is clinically defined by the presence of symptoms such as social withdrawal, self-conclusion in one’s house, the absence of personal connections with family members, and the absence of participation in communal activities.

Research on the prevalence and culture-bound specificity of the disorders, as well as the efficacy of pharmacotherapy, individual and group psychotherapy, and psychosocial rehabilitation treatments, are being conducted.

(This document has one table.) The following descriptors are used: foreign countries; Asian culture; mental disorders; cultural influences; intimacy; social isolation; self concept; psychophysiology; psychotherapy; non-Western civilizations; Western civilizations; classification; psychological patterns; the human body; olfactory perception; academic achievement; adolescents; context effect; attachment behavior; descriptors Reports – Research Publication Type:Reports – Research Postsecondary education; secondary education are the educational levels available.

Audience:N/AL N/AAuthoring Institution N/AIdentifiers – JapanSponsor:N/AAuthoring Institution N/AIdentifiers – Japan Numbers of Grants or Contracts: N/A

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