The existence of culture bound syndrome

This essay will research whether civilization bound syndrome exist or non. First, the essay will first specify what civilization edge syndromes are and how they are categorised. Then this is followed by a treatment of statements back uping the being of CBS and statements disputing their being.


Most mental wellness upsets are based on the Western scientific theoretical account of medical specialty. It is assumed that mental wellness upsets stem from a biological footing and that they are found in all civilizations. The position that mental wellness jobs are civilization free is a universalist position. However a universalist position ignores the function of civilization on mental wellness. Ignoring the function of civilization can take to misdiagnosis and miss of understanding about mental wellness jobs in general.


Classification systems like the DSM IV ( Diagnostic and Statistical manual of mental wellness upsets ) are a diagnostic tool for head-shrinkers. The current DSM is the DSM IV, where “ Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition ( DSM-IV ) has been designed for usage across clinical scenes ( inmate, outpatient, partial infirmary, consultation-liaison, clinic, private pattern, and primary attention ) , with community populations. It can be used by a broad scope of wellness and mental wellness professionals. ” The current edition of the DSM has made modest efforts to include mental wellness upsets from other civilizations in order to turn to cultural issues. These are known as culture-bound syndromes and are defined as ;

“ Culture Bound syndromes are a culturally comparative attack to mental wellness upsets in which specific symptom are alone to that peculiar civilization. recurrent, locality-specific forms of deviant behaviour and disturbing experience that may or may non be linked to a peculiar DSM-IV diagnostic class. Many of these forms are indigenously considered to be “ unwellnesss ” , or at least afflictions, and most have local names

The word civilization refers to the beliefs, norms and besides values that govern the manner people that are within a defined group such as a certain society or state that interact with each other and these must be in a criterion of acceptable behaviors and ideas and each new member of the society has to larn these beliefs and apprehensions. This links to civilization edge syndromes since every bit mentioned before, Culture edge syndromes are syndromes in which are really alone to a certain civilization merely which would intend that their symptoms are merely seen and experienced within that civilization.

An illustrations of a civilization edge syndromes is Amok found in Malaysia. This CBS is where “ this is a dissociative episode having a period of dwelling followed by an effusion of aggressive, violent or murderous behavior aimed at people and objects.A It seems to happen merely among males, and is frequently precipitated by a sensed rebuff or insult.A It is frequently accompanied by persecutory thoughts, automatism, memory loss or exhaustion, following which the person returns to their pre-morbid state.A The victim, who is about ever a male between 20-45, has frequently experienced a loss of societal position or a major life change.A It is now rare, and occurs chiefly in rural parts. ” 4

Another civilization edge syndrome would be Dhat which occurs in India. Dhat is defined as “ obscure bodily symptoms of weariness, failing, anxiousness, loss of appetency, guilt and sexual disfunction attributed by the patient to loss of seeds in nocturnal emanations, through urine and onanism. “ A The anxiousness related to seeds loss can be traced back 1000s of old ages to Ayurvedic texts, where the loss of a individual bead of seeds, the most cherished organic structure fluid, could destabilise the full organic structure. ”

These illustrations of civilization edge syndrome represent some syndromes are found in Asia. Culture edge syndromes besides exist in Western society – one of the most good known 1s is anorexia. It is “ an eating upset in which people deliberately starve themselves. It causes utmost weight loss, which the National Institute of Mental Health ( NIMH ) , portion of the National Institutes of Health ( NIH ) , defines every bit at least 15 per centum below the person ‘s normal organic structure weight. ”

Categorizing civilization edge syndromes

Culture edge syndromes have been categorised by McCajor Hall ( 1988 ) in the six following ways.

The first manner is that he believes that in order to be a civilization edge syndrome, it must be a psychiatric unwellnesss that has non been originally caused and it must be recognised as an unwellness locally, nevertheless it must non be matched within a recognized class. The 2nd manner is that, it must be a psychiatric unwellness that has non been originally caused and is besides recognised as an unwellness locally but it must besides resemble a western class though it may miss some symptoms that are normally regarded as the of import portion within other civilizations. The 3rd manner is merely merely that the psychiatric unwellness has non yet been recognised in the West. The 4th manner is that the psychiatric unwellness that is found in many civilizations may be originally caused but must be merely regarded as an unwellness in one or a few of the civilizations. The 5th manner is that the psychiatric unwellness is accepted culturally as a signifier of unwellness but it would still non be regarded as an acceptable unwellness in the mainstream of western medical specialty. The 6th manner is that the psychiatric unwellness or syndrome purportedly happening in a given civilization, but in fact does non be at all in world but is used to warrant the ejection and executing of an castaway in the same manner witchery was.

Psychiatrist, Berry et Al ( 1992 ) has argued that there are three types of syndromes. First, absolute syndromes where the same symptom and incidence rates are found around the universe. The 2nd is cosmopolitan syndromes where the same symptoms are found around the universe but where the incidence rates may change between civilization to civilization and in conclusion culturally comparative syndromes where the symptoms are alone to a peculiar civilization.

However there remains guess about the being of civilization edge syndromes, some psychologists take a universalist place and maintain they do n’t be, whilst others take a relativist place and argue they do.

Culture Bound syndromes do be

Culture edge syndromes are alone in their ain manner since it can merely be seen within specific civilizations. Peoples who support this thought are psychologists like Pfeiffer and McCajor Hall. Hall believes that in order for a syndrome to be considered a civilization edge syndrome, the syndrome itself must basically be recognised by the locals of the specific civilization and must be non known by another class like from the western civilization. If it is recognised as or resembles a western mental unwellness, so the syndrome should at least have a few of its symptoms but non all.

Pfeiffer has argued that civilization edge syndromes might non be at place in the categorization system such as the DSM IV. He believes that civilization edge syndromes should be viewed at a degree of the civilization separately itself and non merely from one specific topographic point like the vantage point of Washington DC ( the place of the American Psychological Association ) and believes that it is specific in the undermentioned four facets. The first facet is that he believes that civilizations differ in those things that place people under intolerable emphasis, for illustration, in one civilization it may be due to work, position or wellness issues while in another civilization it may be due to household dealingss.

The 2nd facet he proposed was that different civilizations allow and ban certain looks and behaviors and what might be permitted as a culturally acceptable release mechanism in certain civilizations may possibly non be allowed in others if they do non accept it. For illustration within some civilizations, imbibing intoxicant is prohibited. Without this release mechanism certain defeats may be expressed in certain ways that are disguised in civilizations where imbibing intoxicant is viewed as a acceptable behavior. Therefore a behavior may be alone to that behavior.

The 3rd facet is that we may hold culture- specific readings within us ; this would intend that a behavior is one thing, nevertheless what we take it to intend for ourselves and what sense we make from it, can be a wholly different thing. An illustration of this would be that back in the past, certain adult females were ‘discovered ‘ or instead accused of being enchantresss because of culturally specific readings of their behavior ( Ussher 1992 ) .

The 4th facet that Pfeiffer proposed was that we have non explored the assortment of culturally specific ways of handling upsets, but folk medical specialty is a good illustration of the ways in which autochthonal people treat their unwellnesss. Another good illustration would be that through western scientific disciplines, people can be cured from their unwellness like febrility, cough and so on though the use of drugs but in the Asiatic civilization, the Chinese usage natural beginnings such as herbs or utilize stylostixis to bring around the same unwellness the western civilization is bring arounding but the lone difference between the two civilizations is the method that is being used. From this, if it is true that Culture edge syndromes are a signifier of common people unwellness that are to be treated by common people medical specialty, so this would intend that they are qualitatively inconsistent with the purposes and intent of the ICD and DSM.

Though Pfeiffer ‘s position was different compared to Hall ‘s position, there are some similarities, and the most obvious one would be the fact that the syndrome is determined by the civilization itself. This shows that both psychologists view believe that non every civilization edge syndrome has to be under Western scientific discipline and that it can be alone in its ain manner.

Behaviors can be misunderstood and misinterpreted. What is considered normal in one civilization may non be in another and frailty versa.

“ In a survey in the early 1960s, Lee noted that out of a random sample of Zulu adult females more than a 3rd had reported ocular and audile hallucinations affecting ‘angels, babes and small short hairy work forces ‘ . In the same survey he found that more than half of the adult females engaged in ‘screaming behavior ‘ , frequently yiping for hours, yearss and even hebdomads. Either of these reported behaviors would be viewed as grossly unnatural in the West. Yet few of these adult females showed any other marks of mental upset. Within their ain civilization their hallucinations and shouting were legitimate. ” Such a survey shows that though non accepted globally, different societies have different ethical motives and different beliefs. Zulus considered holding hallucinations and shouting as acceptable and normal nevertheless such behaviors would be pathologised in the West. The opposite so can be true, behaviour can be deemed unacceptable or a mental unwellness if it violates a society ‘s norms.

Sam ( 1996 ) states that western psychological accounts do n’t account for all the experiences and behavior of people from other civilizations, psychological science being western civilization edge and blind to influences from elsewhere

Culture-bound syndromes do non be

Yap ( 1974 ) has argued that human mental upsets are really wide and span across all civilization and so it could be argued that the symptoms emerge from within the person and these symptoms cluster together to organize distinct classs of mental unwellness. The 2nd point is that he believes comparative psychopathology purposes to set up common links across civilizations in a similar mode to the manner in which comparative psychological science explores links within worlds which could be seen as culturally specific looks of common human jobs and upsets that are addressed by the ICD and the DSM. Yap besides mentions that he believes that a CBS such as Latah is a local cultural look of ‘primary fright reaction ‘ .

There are besides other statements which show that civilization bound syndrome in fact do non be. One illustration is that of ‘Dhat ‘ , mentioned earlier. ‘The British Journal of Psychiatry’includes a survey called “ Culture-bound syndromes: the narrative of Dhat syndrome ” The survey had two aims ; the first was to garner information on surveies which were clinical and empirical about the syndrome called Dhat and to reexamine the literature that was done. The second was to pull out the information on historical informations in different states at different periods. The method in which they decided to make it was by manual literature hunts and electronic literature hunts in order to derive information. They did it on the being and description of the semen-loss anxiousness in different civilizations and besides scenes. The consequence was that although Dhat syndrome normally came from Asia, the syndrome ‘s constructs, historically have been explained by other civilizations in Britain, USA and Australia for illustration. This shows that from the beginnings gained, the symptoms show “ planetary prevalence of this status ” , even though it ‘s largely seen as a syndrome from the E. The decision they came up with was that “ It appears thatA dhatA ( semen-loss anxiousness ) is notA every bit culture-bound as antecedently thought. We propose that theA construct of culture-bound syndromes should be modified in lineA with DSM-IV recommendations. ” Besides when they were roll uping and analyzing the consequences they found out that seeds loss anxiousness in Western civilization, Chinese civilization and in the Indian subcontinent were the same and what their positions on the loss of seeds meant to them within the civilization. In fact the historical information could be traced back to Aristotle ‘s clip whilst on the Indian subcontinent this position could be found “ In Ayurvedic texts which are dated between the 5th millenary BC and the seventh century AD “ . This show that people think alike about same but it ‘s merely called in different names. This is really important as this supports with the cosmopolitan thought where it is proposed that mental wellness upsets are cosmopolitan and that civilization edge syndromes are in fact merely fluctuations of the mental wellness upsets depending on what kind of symptoms they have. This supports the position that civilization bound syndrome should non necessitate a new diagnostic standards due to it being fluctuations as mentioned before.

‘The British Journal of Psychiatry’argues that the syndrome called ‘taijin kyofusho ‘ from Japan is similar to the western class of societal phobic disorder. Both syndromes cause the patients to endure an intensive fright about their organic structures, body portion or even body maps in which may be displeasing to other people. If we compare the syndrome taijin kyofusho with societal phobic disorder, both have symptoms like anxiousness, although to different grades, so we can state it ‘s the same syndrome or mental unwellness. Culture bound syndrome may in fact merely be considered a syndrome for a specific civilization in that it may non hold all the symptoms from the western civilization.

Thomas Szasz an American psychologist besides believed that the thought of civilization edge syndromes bing is disused though he besides believed that the thought of mental wellness upsets bing is besides disused excessively. The thought on mental unwellnesss or mental wellness upset in which Thomas Szasz has came up with is the thought in which that these do n’t truly be. He believed that these are merely a myth as all the mental unwellnesss has no existent grounds in which show they are a biological cause of mental unwellnesss.

In a article about him by ‘the new Atlantis ‘ , “ Szasz mocked the attempts of about every major American head-shrinker back to Benjamin Rush, the profession ‘s initiation male parent. “ The topics [ mental diseases ] have hitherto been enveloped in enigma, ” Rush wrote in the late 18th century. “ I have endeavored to convey them down to the degree of all other diseases of the human organic structure, and to demo that the head and the organic structure are moved by the same causes and capable to the same Torahs. ” This was the mistake Szasz aimed to rectify. ”

This can be seen Within his “ The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct ‘ . “ It is a “ Thomas Szasz ‘s authoritative book revolutionized believing about the nature of the psychiatric profession and the moral deductions of its patterns. By naming unwanted behaviour as mental unwellness, head-shrinkers, Szasz argues, absolve persons of duty for their actions and alternatively fault their alleged unwellness. He besides critiques Freudian psychological science as a pseudoscience and warns against the unsafe overreach of psychopathology into all facets of modern life. ” Thomas Szasz believes that psychopathology is merely a societal control system and non a genuinely medical scientific discipline as he believed that psychopathology is nil but merely for people to cover with other people ‘s jobs in life that has been disturbing them in life on and on. Thomas Szasz besides feels that psychopathology is nil but a pseudo scientific discipline that pretend it ‘s a medical specialty by utilizing words in which would do psychopathology sound medical over the last century. From this Thomas Szasz show people that such thoughts like mental wellness upsets and civilization edge syndromes do non be.


In decision, the civilization edge syndromes do be to some extent as people such as Yap ‘s thought believe on the cosmopolitan attack and believe that civilization edge syndromes are merely mental wellness upsets but merely at a lower graduated table. Another psychologists who believe that civilization edge does n’t be is Thomas Szasz, though he besides believes mental wellness upsets do non be, his thought still however demo it to be non-existence. However harmonizing to the article in the new Atlantic Szasz has been “ A passed into fable, bearing small resemblance to world ” . At this clip now “ Szasz is largely remembered, if he is remembered at all, as the great silly, a flat-earth disciple in the clip of telescopes and Earths. Most medical pupils alumnus without of all time hearing his name. ” They believe that his believes and positions are now disused and “ One can barely be surprised if Szasz has assumed the function reserved for all failed revolutionists ” .

‘The British Journal of Psychiatry’have besides done historical research on the civilization bound syndrome Dhat where they looked at how the position of losing seeds was attack. They found that the positions were the same, where they all believed that seeds are really cherished and valuable and a unwanted trait. This show and supports the thought of catholicity where all mental wellness upsets exist everyplace and they are all the same. This shows that the civilization bound syndrome Dhat was non truly a civilization edge syndrome and it could hold been exaggerated. The diary has concluded within their research that since the Dhat syndrome is non truly a civilization bound syndrome they thought it would be, they suggested that the Dhat syndrome should modify its standards along the lines which is similar to the DSM IV. This one time once more supports the catholicity thought.

Unfortunately despite assorted statements demoing civilization edge syndromes being to be disused, there are still rather a few psychologists who have their ain positions and believes that show that that civilization bound syndrome does in fact exist. A good illustration would be psychologist McCajor Hall ‘s believes. Hall believed that since civilization bound syndromes are merely present in specific civilizations ; he believed that so long a syndrome does non hold all the symptoms that are from a western class it is so, a civilization edge syndrome.

McCajor Hall with his ain positions and ways lets people recognize that, non all upsets or syndromes in fact have to be compared to western scientific discipline nor does it hold to be under a western class in mental wellness upsets and the syndromes can be in anyplace in different signifiers.

The psychologist Pfeiffer besides has his ain positions and believes strengthens the civilization bound syndrome moreover, stating that civilization varies from one to another. Pfeiffer believed that one job in one civilization may non hold the same job in another civilization and has mentioned that depending on the civilization, behaviors can be merely acceptable or unacceptable merely harmonizing to their civilization.

From here we see that civilization edge syndromes in fact do exists but non wholly and the extent in which it is exist may non be really high. What shows civilization edge syndromes do exists, are from psychologists ‘ thoughts such as Pfeiffer and Hall. Their positions tells us that even though some civilization bound syndromes may hold similar symptoms from the western class on mental wellness upsets, it still is a civilization edge syndrome. The ground for this is because the cosmopolitan attack may take to misdiagnosis. Besides from Pfeiffer ‘s first point where one cultures job is may non be the same as the other, we can see that in world, it ‘s impossible to state that cultures all around the universe have the same job. This is rather true as there are a batch of mental wellness upsets in this universe which have yet to be discovered and the psychologists and head-shrinkers are yet at a degree which can understand the human head wholly since it ‘s so complex. With this we can one time once more say that civilization bound syndromes exist.


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