Dhat Syndrome in India

Dhat is the condition of semen-loss anxiety and was a predominant culture-bound syndrome in India and also has been reported in Sri Lanka.  Dhat has been termed as an “exotic neurosis of the Orient.”  The symptoms of the semen-loss anxiety are well known in Indian historical writing.  Great importance of semen was portrayed to men, so if “a single drop” of semen was lost, this induced somatic symptoms and terrible stress to that individual.  The study observed that the men of the lower class in the Indian society usually were more susceptible to this major anxiety and thought it best to seek psychological treatment to correct them.  The higher social class men spoke more freely about sex and had showed less physical causes of the semen loss compared to the lower social class men.

Dhat could be considered as a CBS bound by India because frequently this semen-loss anxiety was described and diagnosed as a different condition, and seeking treatment or help was less stressed upon in other cultures.   The Indian culture showed great importance of semen, and for reasons unknown affects the lower social class more in physical symptoms compared than any other.  It was also suggested that Dhat is coupled with hypochondriacs.  A cohort in Sri Lanka found that to these men, the excessive loss of semen led to “sexual dysfunction and physical symptoms and thus was harmful.”  It seems as though Dhat was culturally influenced through the historical writings of semen-loss anxiety.

It has been evaluated psychiatrically since most men convinced they have Dhat are also dealing with mental issues as well.  After being researched it looks like throughout history Dhat was a common theme, but has stuck in the Sri Lankan and Indian culture within some populations.  These societies dictate the CBS through their views of treatment for it by advertising “cures” alongside roads, on the television, and in news papers.  Such advertisements and stigmas confirm semen-loss anxiety beliefs in the men of these cultures.

 

 

Sumathipala, A., Sirribaddana, S.H., and Bhugra, Dinesh. “Culture-bound syndromes: the story of dhat syndrome.”  The British Journal of Psychiatry 184 (2004): 200-209.

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