The Identification of Culture-specific Syndromes
A culture-specific syndrome is characterized by:
- categorization as a disease in the culture (i.e., not a voluntary behaviour or false claim);
- widespread familiarity in the culture;
- complete lack of familiarity of the condition to people in other cultures;
- no objectively demonstrable biochemical or tissue abnormalities (symptoms);
- the condition is usually recognized and treated by the folk medicine of the culture.
Some culture-specific syndromes involve somatic symptoms (pain or disturbed function of a body part), while others are purely behavioral. Some culture-bound syndromes appear with similar features in several cultures, but with locally-specific traits, such as penis panics.
A culture-specific syndrome is not the same as a geographically localized disease with specific, identifiable, causal tissue abnormalities, such as kuru or sleeping sickness, or genetic conditions limited to certain populations. It is possible that a condition originally assumed to be a culture-bound behavioral syndrome is found to have a biological cause; from a medical perspective it would then be redefined into another nosological category.
Read more about this topic: Culture-bound Syndrome