When I first started thinking about a cultural bound syndrome I was under the assumption that I would come up with a illness that was seen as important to one society and imaginary to another. But this was not the case for me, I found something very disturbing to myself. Looking at heart disease and the type of behavior that contributes greatly to the risk of contracting it are prevalent in western society. Cecil Helman speculates that heart disease is more common in western cultures because of the way our society values our way of life when he says “In particular, his anti-social behaviour is rewarded in money, or status by that same society.”(Helman, C. 969-979) To me this hits home because I have several people in my family that have had to deal with heart disease. Heart disease is a relatively general term that can include heart attacks, congenital heart disease, or congestive heart failure to name a few. All of which are common to us in western culture, but what makes it even more shocking to me is that it is a real medical condition recognized by the biomedical community. To me one of the major components of this disease is not only the pressure western culture puts on money and possessions, but also the fact that especially in the United States we are a very obese country. This is a contributing factor in why heart failure could be considered a CBS for western culture. This problem with obesity also leads to higher blood pressure and higher cholesterol which are both reasons why we have such a high rate of heart disease in western culture. Until we realise that it is not normal to have heart disease and that it is a result of the way the vast majority of Americans live there lives we will continue to see high rates of heart disease until we realise the error of our ways. Being as heart disease is recognized by biomedical medicine heart disease is commonly treated by doctors and hospitals. It is treated in a variety of ways ranging from drugs, to surgery to fix heart ailments or unclog arteries. So the next time you think about playing a video game maybe you should go outside and do something active instead.
Helman, Cecil “Heart disease and the cultural construction of time: The type A behavior pattern as a western culture-bound syndrome” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0277953687900013 Volume 25 issue 9, 1987. (accessed July 18, 2013)