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Culture-Bound Syndromes: Latah

Latah is a condition in which, after experiencing a sudden shock or fright, a person suddenly displays an altered state of consciousness with abnormal levels of suggestibility. While in this state, individuals will follow the commands of people around them. They will often repeat the words (echolalia) and actions of others (echopraxia). In addition, they may display other socially inappropriate behaviors, such as singing out loud, saying sexually explicit words, and touching or hitting other people. A latah attack may last minutes or hours depending on the frequency of provoking stimuli. Afterward, the individual has no memory of the events that took place during the episode.

This syndrome is most prevalent among middleaged Malaysian women. However, similar conditions have been found in Burma (yaun), Thailand (bahtsche), ...

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