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.
Famous quotes containing the word syndrome:
“Women are taught that their main goal in life is to serve othersfirst men, and later, children. This prescription leads to enormous problems, for it is supposed to be carried out as if women did not have needs of their own, as if one could serve others without simultaneously attending to ones own interests and desires. Carried to its perfection, it produces the martyr syndrome or the smothering wife and mother.”
—Jean Baker Miller (20th century)