Culture-Bound Syndromes: Falling Out, Blacking Out

The anthropological literature describes traditional ways that African Americans express psychiatric distress and other forms of emotions. Data gathered through clinical case reports, in-depth household interviews, and a review of emergency services records in the city of Miami all point to falling out as a culture-bound syndrome. Falling out is the general term used to describe variations of a syndrome that are believed to be functionally equivalent: falling out, blacking out, and indisposition. Falling out and blacking out are terms used most often in the southern United States, whereas indisposition is the term used in Haiti.

Falling out is conceptualized as a dissociative reaction that is associated with constricted consciousness and designed to cope with anxiety. The most common descriptions note a sudden collapse or fainting ...

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