Abnormal Psychology and Culture-Bound Syndromes

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Abnormal Psychology and Culture-Bound Syndromes

As many of us know, there are unlimited differences in cultures around the world from religion to the way we communicate with one another. What many of us may not know, however, is that there are actually specific psychological disorders found only in certain areas of the world. There are several well known culture-bound disorders as well as variances in disorders and on theoretical reasons behind the disorders themselves that will be discussed throughout. To be clear, not all of the strange things people do all over the world are disorders nor are culture-bound syndromes limited to any one region. Anorexia/bulimia nervosa, for example, is a disorder found in the west but not in
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These types of things are so specific that they are almost incomprehensible to those not brought up with them. Another factor of a culture-bound syndrome is how the culture will react to it (Matsumoto, 1994). In susto a person suffers from depression thought to be caused from “soul loss” (Matsumoto, 1994). When this happens to a person, a native healer will carry out sacrifices to the earth in attempts to get the soul back (Matsumoto, 1994). This could easily be a subconscious way to involve one’s self with his community or get some attention or any number of things. All of these reasons are why it is important to have a good grasp on the culture of where a person is coming from. Since the DSM-IV has been updated to include about 25 culture-bound syndromes, there has also been added an “Outline for Cultural Formation” (Smith & Smith, 1997). This outline is to help get a solid feel of a person’s cultural background. The five categories are “1) Cultural identity of the individual. 2) Cultural explanation of the individual’s illness. 3) Cultural factors related to psychosocial environment and levels of functioning. 4) Cultural elements of the relationship between the individual and the clinician. 5) Overall cultural assessment for diagnosis and care. (Smith & Smith,1997)” The DSM-IV added culture-bound syndromes it thought were common enough to see in America (Smith &
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