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In Southeast Asia (i.e., Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand), latah (or melatah) corresponds to a condition in which a person exhibits abnormal behaviors after experiencing shock. Immediately or shortly after the shock, the person may present with episodes of screaming, cursing, dancing-type movements, uncontrollable laughter, and/or childish or infantile behavior. Latah patients may pronounce words or sentences that are usually considered obscene or irreverent. They may also imitate the actions of other individuals around them and obey commands that are forcefully directed at them.

One of the earliest descriptions of the cause and clinical presentation of latah was published in an article in the British Medical Journal, in 1897, involving a 40-year-old woman from Malaysia:

During a quiet conversation and during her physical examination, ...

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