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Culture-Bound Syndromes

Researchers refer to culture-bound syndromes, also called culture-related psychiatric disorders, by a variety of terms, such as ethnic psychoses, ethnic neurosis, rare, unclassifiable, collective, and exotic syndromes, and atypical culture-bound reactive syndromes. More recently, culture-bound syndromes have been defined as the development of a unique psychopathology or a collection of signs and symptoms that are observed only in a certain cultural environment.

Culture-bound syndromes present a particular challenge to clinicians, particularly in the area of diagnosis. There is a long debate in the literature about the role of biology and culture in the development of culture-bound syndromes, whether such behavior is universal or locally unique, and whether episodes are “normal” culturally based behavior or examples of “authentic” diseases and disorders. Similar questions include whether culture-bound ...

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