The article I choose to summarize was about a very interesting culture bound syndrome known as chalk, or kaolin, eating. Chalk eating is a specific type of Pica. As the article states Pica is “the persistent eating of non-nutritive substances.” Such substances as ice, paint chips, or in this specific case in Georgia kaolin, are ingested. Pica is commonly found in the mothers of patients have it in their childhood, along with many pregnant women in the rural areas of Georgia. This particular article focuses on the eating of kaolin, otherwise known as chalk. With the help of a colleague, they were able to interview 21 people who admitted to ingesting kaolin and discussed their findings.
Some interviews were done in person, others were on the phone. All of the people interviewed were black and only one was male. Reasons why these people chose to eat chalk varied from liking the taste, to pure cravings, to doing it because they knew others who did it. They acquired it from a number of different sources such as the store, friends, or directly from a kaolin pit. Almost all of the respondents reported that they enjoyed the taste of chalk and it did not make them sick. Fourteen of the people questioned said that they knew of others with the same habit. When asked, most of them did not know what others thought about their chalk eating. Though, this does seem to be strange in our culture. After the interview responses, I think kaolin ingestion is something driven by the mind to fulfill a desire. The article did not discuss any treatment available for this other than the advice from a doctor to stop or limit the ingestion of chalk.
Though their data is limited, they believe that “kaolin ingestion is a form of pica that meets the DSM-IV criteria of a culture-bound syndrome.” The only complication it may create is over-indulgence, but other than that it has shown no signs of leading to other psychopathology. The article reads that “kaolin ingestion appears to be a culturally-transmitted form of pica.”
Grigsby, Kevin R., Bruce A. Thyer, Raymond J. Waller, and George A. Johnston. “Chalk Eating in Middle Georgia: A Culture-Bound Syndrome of Pica?” Soutern Medical Journal. Southern Medival Association, Feb. 1999. Web. 20 July 2012. <http://journals.lww.com/smajournalonline/Abstract/1999/02000/Chalk_Eating_in_Middle_Georgia__A_Culture_Bound.5.aspx>.