Culture-Bound Syndromes

Topics: Mental disorder, Psychiatry, Mental illness Pages: 10 (3248 words) Published: December 12, 2010
Culture-Bound Syndromes
Central Arkansas University

Table of Contents

AbstractPg. 3

IntroductionPg. 4 - 8

MethodologyPg. 8 - 10

Analysis & DiscussionPg. 10 - 11

Conclusion & RecommendationsPg. 11- 13

BibliographyPg. 14

Mental Health as described by LaVeist and Thomas (2005) is “a state of successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and the ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity” (p. 84). Mental health functioning is important regarding a person’s well-being, being able to interact with others in a healthy manner, and contributes many things to individual’s through communities and society. Culture-bound syndromes are conditions that are specific to particular cultures. The cultures that experience, express, and deal with culture-bound syndromes in different ways is extremely common. LaVeist and Thomas (2005) state that “culture-bound syndromes are clusters of symptoms more common in some cultures than others” (p. 101). There are symptoms that are found in all nations, cultures, and similarly recognizable worldwide but yet are different at the same time.

Culture-Bound Syndromes
Culture-bound syndromes, also known as culture-specific syndromes, have been defined as “clusters of symptoms more common in some cultures than in other cultural groups” (LaVeist & Thomas, 2005, p.101). Although many mental disorders are well known in specific cultures, these disorders are at least somewhat conditioned by the culture in which they are found. More importantly, the topic of culture-bound syndromes has “been a controversial topic since they have reflected the different opinions of anthropologists and psychiatrists” (WHO, 1992). Consequently, researchers have had some difficulty emphasizing culture specific dimensions of certain syndromes. Some studies have suggested that the most beneficial aspect of defining culture-bound syndromes is that they represent an acceptable way to define specific cultural responses to certain situations. According to Guarnaccia and Rogler (1999), “researchers have referred to culture bound research on culture-bound syndromes serves strategically to tighten the integration between cultural and clinical knowledge, while providing insights into issues of diagnostic universality and culturally specificity” (p.1326). The role of biology in the development of culture-bound syndromes, therefore, has proved to be of debate. Interest in culture-bound syndromes has increased over the last few decades. Similarly the treatment in a diagnostic classification treatment of these disorders has over the last several years gained attention (Guarnaccia & Rogler, 1999). Clinicians are presented with plenty of challenges when dealing with culture-bound syndromes such as how to diagnose them. Several questions clinicians present include the stability of culture-bound syndromes, the common nature of these disorders across cultures, and the similarity of symptoms between syndromes (APA, 1994). Similarly, the question of whether culture-bound syndromes should be included in the diagnostic criteria of current psychological illnesses or as individual entities themselves is also debatable (APA, 1994). Another issue concerns the relationship between culture bound syndromes and standard diagnostic systems such as the DSM. Of specific concern is that they do not easily conform to the categories within the DSM due to significant differences across cultures. These differences are due to differing views of self and reality as well as the different ways cultures express certain disorders (APA, 1994). Guarnaccia and Rogler (1999) referring to the DSM classification system in that it addresses certain concerns about differing cultural boundaries, and in dealing with the classification methods certainly deal with the...

References: American Psychiatric Association (APA). (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition: DSM-IV. Washington, DC.
Bernstein, R. L., & Gaw, A. C. (1990). Koro: proposed classification for DSM-IV. American Journal of Psychiatry, 147, 1670-1674.
Guarnaccia, P. J., & Rogler, L. H. (1999). Research on culture-bound syndromes: New directions. American Journal of Psychiatry, 156(9), 1322-1327.
Hall, T. M. (2008). Culture-bound syndromes in China. Retrieved from
LaVeist, T. A., & Thomas, D. (2005). Mental health. In T. A. LaVeist (Ed.) Minority populations and health: An introduction to health disparities in the United States (pp. 83-107). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Levine, R. E., & Gaw, A. C. (1995). Culture-bound syndromes. Psychiatry Clinic North America, 18, 523-536.
World Health Organization (WHO). (1992). International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10): Classification of mental and behavioral disorders. Geneva, Switzerland.
Simons, R. C., & Hughes, C. C. (1985). The culture-bound syndromes: Folk illnesses of psychiatric and anthropological interest. Dordrecht, Netherlands.
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