Hello everyone. Fascinating subject this week! I actually found two articles that really peaked my interest on the subject of culture-bound syndromes. The first one just happened to be on the first Google page when I looked up this subject. It’s on a rare disease called Koro syndrome. Apparently, Koro syndrome was thought to only be present in the men of Southeast Asia and China; indeed, making it a culture-bound syndrome, but there were recently a couple of cases in Greece that presented a lot of the features of Koro syndrome, suggesting that what was once culture-bound has found a way to spread (BMJ Case Rep, 2010)! This suggestion led me to the second article I found. I have always had an avid interest in serial killers. I have also heard serial killing described as a Westernized culture-bound syndrome. So, I wondered if serial killing was something created by westernized culture. What I found wasn’t an article exactly, but a university paper written by a student that proved quite useful in answering the question I had. The way the author describes this scenario is that; yes, the term serial killer was made noticeable through Western culture, but that there are non-Western cultures; such as, Japan, South Africa, and Pakistan, that have had serial killers, but that due to their cultures serial murders were simply lumped in with all other violent murders, and that these countries didn’t really distinguish the difference until they were exposed to Western influences in more recent years (Pilson, 2011). So now, I’m left with this question; can all culture-bound syndromes have the potential to present in someone not native to the culture, but who had decided to reside within that culture? Koro syndrome, by the way, only occurs in men as it is a psychiatric disorder that involves panic and anxiety over the shrinking of the male organ, its rescinding into the abdomen, and its subsequent death (BMJ Case Rep, 2010). Huh, that just made me think of another question. Is a gender-bound disorder a culture-bound disorder as well if one considers gender-roles as male culture and female culture? Fascinating stuff!
BMJ Case Rep. 2010; 2010: bcr08.2008.0679.
Published online 2010 Mar 15. doi: 10.1136/bcr.08.2008.0679 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3029136/
Pilson, Angela, “Western Culture and the Spread of Serial Murder” (2011). Honors Theses. 109. https://digitalcommons.coastal.edu/honors-theses/109.