Explain what culture-bound syndromes are and describe the features of Koro and Chat syndromes.

Explain what culture-bound syndromes are and describe the features of Koro and Chat syndromes.

Explain what culture-bound syndromes are and describe the features of Koro and Chat syndromes.

Culture-bound Syndromes

Culture-bound syndrome is related to specific mental disorders, which are influenced by the local cultural factors or occurs within the specific societies or culture area and are localized, folk, diagnostic categories that frame the coherent meaning.

According to Littlewood and Lipsedge, cultural bound syndromes are “episodic and dramatic reactions specific to a particular community-locally defined as discrete patterns of behavior”. Behavior pattern of Type A was identified by Hughes (1996), where it is characterized by frustration at failing to achieve goals, impatience, and feelings of chronically struggling against time. The Western culture-bound syndrome was described by Littlewood (1996), where he explains about bulimia nervosa. Ethnic neurosis (Deverux, 1956) and hysterical psychosis (Yap,1969) have also been equated with the culture-bound syndrome.


Koro Syndrome

Culture, or location Symptoms Source
Chinese, UK & Malaysia Semen-loss anxiety, hypersexuality, and impotence Ku-Wu Chen (1939), Haslam (1980), Tan (1969)
Hong Kong – Cantonese patients Semen-loss anxiety, hypersexuality, and impotence Yap (1965)
China Women steal vital fluid from men, which could lead to disease. Botte´ro (1991)
Chinese, UK & Malaysia Penis shrink into his body and disappearing in Males, while in females, breast and vulva will recede. Yap (1965); Rin (1966); Tseng et al (1988)

Dhat Syndrome: First described by Wing in 1960, this is usually seen among young men age group of 20-38 years. As described in the Ayurvedic literature, it occurs due to an imbalance of three elements such as vada, pitta, and kappa.

Culture, or location Somatic symptoms Source
South Asian Countries - India, Pakistan Semen-loss (white turbid) in urine during masturbation leading to anxiety. Weakness, loss of appetite, guilt Wing (1960)
Women – Leucorrhoea (loss of vital fluid)
General symptoms: Weakness, fatigue, palpitation, sleeplessness


Botte to, A. (1991) Consumption by semen loss in India and elsewhere.Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, 15, 321-359.

Devereux,G. (1956) Normal and abnormal. In Some Uses of Anthropology (eds J.B.Casgrande & T.Gladwin). Washington, DC: Anthropological Society.

Hughes,C.C. (1996) The culture-bound syndromes and psychiatric diagnosis. In Culture and Psychiatric Diagnosis: A DSM-IV Perspective (eds J.Mezzich, A. Kleinman,H. Fabrega, et al.), pp. 298-308.Washington, DC: APA.

Ku-Wu Chen, D. (1939) A Clinical Text of Chinese Medicine.Taipei:General Press. Haslam,M.T. (1980) Medicine and the Orient: Shen-Kui syndrome. British Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7, 31-36.

Rin,H. (1966) Two forms of vital deficiency syndrome among Chinese elemental patients.Transcultural Psychiatry Research Review, 3,19^214.

Littlewood, R. & Lipsedge,M. (1985) Culture-bound syndromes. In Recent Advances in Clinical Psychiatry (ed.K.Granville-Grossman), pp.105-142. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

Littlewood, R. (1996) Cultural comments on culture-bound syndromes: 1. In Culture and Psychiatric Diagnosis:A DSM-IV Perspective (eds J.Mezzich, A.Kleinman,H.Fabrega, et al.), pp. 309-312.Washington,DC: APA.

Tseng,W.-S.,Mo,K.M.,Hsu, J., et al. (1988) A sociocultural study of koro epidemics in Guangdong, China. American Journal of Psychiatry, 145,1538-1543.

Wig N. Problems of mental health in India. Journal of Clinical and Social Psychology (India) 1960; 17: 48–53.

Yap, P.M. (1965) Koro: a culture-bound depersonalisation syndrome. British Journal of Psychiatry, 111, 43-45.

Yap, P.M. (1969) The culture-bound syndromes. In Mental Health Research in Asia and The Pacific (eds W. Cahil & T.Y. Lin), pp. 33-53.Honolulu: East-West Centre Press.

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