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Topic: Culture Bound syndromes
Word Count – 500W
Keywords: stay positive


An Overview of Culture-bound Syndromes- Examples and More

Did you know about culture-bound syndromes? Well, they are a group of psychiatric and somatic symptoms that are considered to be a disease only in certain cultures. On the other hand, these symptoms are restricted to a small number of cultures.

More About Culture-bound Syndromes

Culture-bound syndrome, also known as folk illness, is limited to particular cultures or societies. Since this condition is limited to specific regions, they are alien to other cultures. As a result, they hardly become a subject of interest for researchers and clinicians. The term “Culture bound syndrome” was coined in the fourth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1994.

Culture-bound syndrome signs and symptoms often become a reason for discomfort. These signs and symptoms have widespread recognition in a particular culture while unknown in other areas.

How to Identify Culture-bound Syndromes

Culture bound syndromes have some common characteristics or signs, and they include:

  • They are considered to be a disease in a particular culture
  • They have wide recognition in the specific culture
  • They are unknown to people in other cultures
  • The signs and symptoms are usually treated by the traditional medicine of the specific culture

Culture-bound syndromes can involve either somatic symptoms or behavioral symptoms.

Different Culture-bound Syndromes

Here are some examples of culture-bound syndromes.

  • Ghost Sickness

Ghost sickness is a culture-bound syndrome common among people in North America. As per certain cultural beliefs, people who are preoccupied with the dead suffer from ghost sickness. Some of the common signs and symptoms include loss of appetite, nightmares, weakness, suffocation feelings, the feeling of terror, etc.

  • Falling Out

Falling out, also known as blacking out, is a condition when a person loses his or her consciousness because of anxiety or stress. A person often feels spinning sensations and dizziness before blackouts happen. People who suffer from falling out usually do not lose consciousness completely. Because they can understand and hear what’s going on around them even if they fall out. This culture-bound syndrome was primarily reported in the United States as well as the Caribbean. Stay positive since it will help you reduce stress and thus, minimizing the risks of falling out.

  • Rootwork (Hoodoo)

Rootwork, widely known as Hoodoo, is a set of spiritual practices, beliefs, and traditions. Enslaved Africans introduced these practices in North America. But later, Hoodoo was spread over the United States. People who practice Hoodoo are known as rootworkers or Hoodoo doctors. Rootwork or Hoodoo is one of the major examples of culture-specific syndromes.

  • Dhat Syndrome

Dhat syndrome or semen loss anxiety syndrome is a medical condition when male patients suffer from impotence or premature ejaculation. Men with semen loss symptoms believe that they pass semen in their urine. Common in South Asia, especially in India, dhat syndrome is related to anxiety and depression. As per specific cultures, the loss of semen leads to physical weakness and gradually to impotence. Traditional treatments are available for this condition.

A lot of factors about culture-bound syndromes are still unknown since limited published literature is available on them. A more systematic study of these syndromes is necessary to understand the conditions in a better way.