Monday, February 6, 2012
Syndromes you never knew existed
Being a curious person and growing up in Southern California, I have only been out of the country once, in 1994 to Costa Rica. So I am often curious as to other cultures, customs and beliefs in other countries or areas of the world. And while I was reading the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV-TR), (I’m not crazy, just fascinated by unusual disorders) I ran across a glossary of culture-bound syndromes. I thought I would share some of them with you because maybe I’m not the only one who never knew they even existed.
· ghost sickness is often associated with witchcraft and is a preoccupation with death and the deceased commonly observed in many American Indian tribes. Various symptoms can be attributed to ghost sickness including bad dreams, weakness, feelings of danger, loss of appetite, fainting, dizziness, hallucinations, confusion, and sense of suffocation.
· hwa-byung or wool-hwa-byung is a Korean fold syndrome that means “anger syndrome” and is attributed to the suppression of anger.
· koro is a Malaysian term that refers to an episode of sudden and intense anxiety that the penis will recede into the body and then cause death
· amok is a dissociative episode characterized by a period of brooding followed by an outburst of violent, aggressive and homicidal behavior directed at people and objects. This behavior pattern is only found in males residing in Malaysia, Polynesia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Puerto Rico and among the Navajo.
· pibloktoq is an abrupt dissociative episode accompanied by extreme excitement of up to 30 minutes’ duration and frequently followed by convulsive seizures and coma lasting up to 12 hours. During the attack, the individual may tear off clothing, break furniture, shout obscenities, eat feces, flee from protective shelters and perform other irrational or dangerous acts. Pibloktoq is found primarily in the arctic and subarctic Eskimo communities. (Maybe it the subzero temperatures that make them crazy-I know it would me!)
· susto is a folk illness among some Latinos in the United States, Mexico, Central America and South America. It refers to an illness attributed to a frightening event that causes the soul to leave the body and results in unhappiness and sickness.
· taijin kyofusho is a distinctive phobia in Japan that refers to an individual’s intense fear that his or her body, its parts or functions, are displeasing, embarrassing or offensive to other people in appearance, odor, facial expressions or movements.
· zar is a general term applied in Ethiopia, Somalia, Egypt, Sudan, Iran and other North African and Middle Eastern societies that refers to the experience of spirits possessing an individual. Persons possessed by a spirit may experience shouting, laughing, hitting their head against a wall, singing, weeping, apathy and withdrawal.
· spell is a trance state in which individuals “communicate” with deceased relatives or with spirits and is associated with periods of personality changes. Spells are not considered to be medical in nature but may be misconstrued as psychotic episodes in clinical settings. Seem mostly among African Americans and European Americans from the southern United States.
· brain fag is a condition seen in West African high school or university students in response to the challenges of schooling. Symptoms include difficulties in concentration, remembering and thinking. Also head and neck pain, pressure or tightness, blurring of vision, heat or burning. Students often state their brains are “fatigued.”