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Culture-Bound Syndromes: Koro

Koro is a Malay-Indonesian term meaning “turtle's head.” It describes a psychiatric, nonpsychotic syndrome involving an acute, panic-like anxiety about the penis receding into the abdomen. This is accompanied by belief that total disappearance of the penis will cause death. In Chinese cultures, koro is also termed Suoyang, Shuk Yang, or Shook Yong, although numerous alternative terms exist within the Chinese language. Examples in other cultures include Jinjinia Bemar (Assam) and Rok-Joo (Thailand).

Symptoms of koro include considerable anxiety about the penis, particularly its size and shape, and substantial fears about impotence or impending death. The symptoms of koro have been compared to those of hypochondriasis and body dysmorphic disorder, as well as a range of anxiety and sexual disorders. Sufferers often express somatic complaints about ...

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