The English phrase “running amok” is derived from the Malay word mengamok, meaning to go on a rampage; however, its meaning has undergone multiple levels of semantic reconstruction over time. At a fundamental level, amok describes a pattern of behaviors characterized by a period of social withdrawal and brooding, followed by explosive mass violence intending injury or death of others. Generally, amok violence is sudden, unprovoked, and carried out almost exclusively by men. This violence typically goes on until the perpetrator is subdued by force, is killed, or commits suicide. Perpetrators who survive their attack often report being in a dissociative state and the experience of localized amnesia.

While amok is the most cited example of a culture-bound syndrome in introductory psychology textbooks, its definition, criterion, ...

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