Culture-bound syndromes: the story of dhat syndrome.

Section of Epidemiology, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK.
The British Journal of Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 7.34). 04/2004; 184:200-9.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Culture-bound syndrome is a term used to describe the uniqueness of some syndromes in specific cultures. Dhat (semen-loss anxiety) has been considered to be an exotic 'neurosis of the Orient'.
To ascertain the presence of similar symptoms and syndromes in different cultures and historical settings.
Electronic and manual literature searches were used to gather information on the existence and description of semen-loss anxiety in different cultures and settings.
Most of the empirical studies on dhat syndrome have emerged from Asia, whereas its concepts have been described historically in other cultures, including Britain, the USA and Australia. The different sources indicate the universality of symptoms and global prevalence of this condition, despite its image as a 'neurosis of the Orient'.
It appears that dhat (semen-loss anxiety) is not as culture-bound as previously thought. We propose that the concept of culture-bound syndromes should be modified in line with DSM-IV recommendations.

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