Cultural Bound Syndromes Essay

1564 Words Apr 7th, 2012 7 Pages
Culture-bound syndrome

The term culture-bound syndrome was included in the fourth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 2000) which also includes a list of the most common culture-bound conditions (DSM-IV: Appendix I). Included in DSM-IV-TR (4th.ed) the term cultural-bound syndrome denotes recurrent, locality-specific patterns of abnormal behavior and troubling experience that may or may not be linked to a particular DSM-IV-TR diagnostic category. Many of these patterns are naturally considered to be illnesses, or at least afflictions, and most have local names. Although presentations conforming to the major DSM-IV-TR categories can be found throughout the world, the
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Some culture-specific syndromes involve somatic symptoms (pain or disturbed function of a body part), while others are purely behavioral. Some culture-bound syndromes appear with similar features in several cultures, but with locally-specific traits, such as penis panics.A culture-specific syndrome is not the same as a geographically localized disease with specific, identifiable, causal tissue abnormalities, such as kuru or sleeping sickness, or genetic conditions limited to certain populations. It is possible that a condition originally assumed to be a culture-bound behavioral syndrome is found to have a biological cause; from a medical perspective it would then be redefined into another nosological category.
Western medical perspectives: An interesting aspect of culture-specific syndromes is the extent to which they are “real”. Characterizing them as “imaginary” is as inaccurate as characterizing them as “malingering”, but there is no clear way to understand them from a Western scientific perspective. Culture-specific syndromes shed light on how our mind decides that symptoms are connected and how a society defines a known “disease”. In contrast, culture-bound

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