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Anorexia Nervosa as a Culture-Bound Syndrome

A syndrome is a set of symptoms (personal experiences and feelings) and signs (behaviors, verbal statements, emotional expressions) that together are valid, useful indicators of illness. Since the late 1960s, the adjective culture bound has been applied when anthropological evidence suggests that a syndrome occurs only in a limited set of regions inhabited by people with very similar cultural assumptions, values, and practices. The causes, the syndrome, the ways in which it is enacted, and social responses to it form a coherent, meaningful, and locally recognized pattern that makes sense within the framework of a particular culture. A culture-bound syndrome needs to be understood and treated on its own terms and not simply as a variation of putatively universal conditions such as schizophrenia or mood ...

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