Hwabyeong is a Culture Bound Syndrome related to the Korean culture. The disorder occurs in middle-ages women of relatively low socio-economic standing. The disorder is an anger syndrome with symptoms that include a subjective feeling of anger with anger-related bodily and behavioral symptoms. The literal meaning of Hwabyung is “anger disease” or “fire disease”. A survey of the general population in a rural area in Korea reported that 4.1% were reported having Hwabyung. These women believe that they have suppressed anger that had built up over time that then disturbs the balance of the five bodily elements. Suffers might experience heavy feeling in the chest, perceived abdominal mass, sleeplessness, hot or cold flashes, and blurred vision. Also some suffer from dry mouth, heart palpitations, insomnia, and anorexia.
Biologically this illness can cause other potentially more severe health issues that stem from stress and depression even if the Hwabyeong does not the sufferer directly in a biological sense. Culturally this illness is perceived as a real illness and is believed to be brought on by the culture which these women live in. Individually the women who claim to suffer they are the victims of chronic social aggression. Others say they are the victim of social unfairness including suppression, deprivation, discrimination, exploitation, poverty, betrayal, or swindling that caused their manifestation of the illness.
For treatment these women first seek help from physicians, including internists before visiting a psychiatrist. Others patients search for treatment with pharmacists and traditional herb physicians again before reaching out to a psychiatrist. The treatment methods include psychotherapy, drug treatment, and family therapy. These treatments are mostly in the professional sector. Others are known to have sought help in the folk sector. Some patients converted to Christianity for Christian faith healing and confirming prayer while other turned to shaman rituals known as ‘goot’.
World Culture Psychiatry Research Review