Category Archives: Culture-Bound Syndromes

Culturally Bound Syndromes: Running Amok in Malaysia

Running amok is a culturally bound syndrome from Malaysia. It occurs almost exclusively in men. It is a brief dissociative and violent episode that often ends with the sufferer’s death. Those who survive usually report amnesia. The Malay people believe that the cause is hantu belian, an evil tiger spirit that enters the person’s body. Many people are familiar with the term “running amok” as its often used by Westerners… Read Article →

Qigong Deviation Syndrome in China

The next culture bound syndrome comes from China. Qigong deviation syndrome is classified as a culturally-bound mental health condition in the Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders, and it was listed in the DSM-IV also. Qigong deviation syndrome can occur if one practices martial arts or qigong improperly. A western clinician would probably interpret the disorder as a brief psychotic episode. Symptoms include “perception of uncontrolled movement of qi in the… Read Article →

Culture Bound Syndrome Series: Latah

Let’s talk about culture-bound syndromes. One by one. Today brings us to Malaysia and Indonesia where we can find latah. In Malay, latah means nervous, ticklish, jumpy, or love-madness. Latah is a chronic condition that falls into the family of startle-syndromes. When a person with latah is startled, he or she responds with a unique set of behaviors. These behaviors include: coprolalia (blurting out sexually explicit words), forced obedience (the… Read Article →