Culture-bound Syndrome

In medicine and medical anthropology, a culture-bound syndrome, culture-specific syndrome or folk illness' is a combination of psychiatric and somatic symptoms that are considered to be a recognizable disease only within a specific society or culture. There are no objective biochemical or structural alterations of body organs or functions, and the disease is not recognized in other cultures. While a substantial portion of mental disorders, in the way they are manifested and experienced, are at least partially conditioned by the culture in which they are found, some disorders are more culture-specific than others. Folk illnesses tend to carry psychological and/or religious overtones.

Even though the concept is controversial, the term culture-bound syndrome was included in the fourth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) which also includes a list of the most common culture-bound conditions (DSM-IV: Appendix I). American psychiatrist and medical anthropologist Arthur Kleinman has contributed much to the understanding of these syndromes.

Read more about Culture-bound Syndrome:  The Identification of Culture-specific Syndromes, Medical Perspectives, DSM-IV List of Culture-bound Syndromes

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