Problem

Culture-bound psychological disorders

Other Names:
Culturally determined mental health problems
Ethnographic psychiatric syndromes
Nature:
Some psychological disorders that are well recognized in some cultures are unknown to and have no equivalent in other cultures. Psychiatry often fails to recognize the importance of cultural and ethnic background and how it can affect mental health. Traditionally, treatment and diagnosis have not taken into account the influence of culture, nor the way in which the patient understands the illness.
Incidence:
Latin American cultures recognize "susto", a reaction to bereavement in which the survivor believes his or her soul has departed with the soul of the person who has died. The survivor is thus "soulless". To treat susto as if it were depression is to ignore the cultural experience of Latin Americans. In Malaysia there is a particular form of sudden violent outburst called "amok". In East Asia, there is a particular form of anxiety, called "koro", that that one's sexual organs will recede into one's body with fatal consequences. In Japan, the syndrome "taijin kyofusho" is a morbid dread that one will do something that will embarras other people. Western industrialized cultures recognize anorexia nervosa, a phobic fear of perceived excess body weight. These syndromes virtually never appear outside the cultures which named them.
Problem Type:
J: Problems Under Consideration
Date of last update
01.01.2000 – 00:00 CET