Taijin Kyofuso in the East

Though it is similar to the anxiety experienced all over the world, I think that Taijin Kyofuso is a culture-bound syndrome because it is different than anxiety experienced in western civilizations. Anxiety, in my opinion is very dependent on culture. Taijin Kyofuso (TKS) found in collectivist cultures like Japan, is defined as the fear of people. They worry about their body odor, eye motions, appearance and many other things embarrassing those around them. It often causes isolation and effects ones career, and ability to create relationships. The cultural and individual dimensions are due to Easterners focus on ‘the group’. Those with TKS worry they are not an asset to the group and are hurting the image of others. It differs from Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) experienced by westerners because people who suffer from TKS fear embarrassing others instead of embarrassing them selves. This comes from the difference in values between collectivist and individualists. This disease was not recognized by westerners for some time because they did not understand eastern culture. People with TKS will not answer questionnaires the same as people with SAD would, so the disease must be diagnosed differently. People with TKS are much less likely to seek treatment for their anxiety although they report that their symptoms are just as strong as those reporting with SAD. It appears that people in Eastern cultures often ignore or avoid receiving treatment for their anxiety.

Hofmann, Stefan, Anu Asnaani, and Devon Hinton. “Cultural Aspects in Social Anxiety and Social Anxiety Disorder.” ADAA. no. 12 (2010): 1117-1127. 10.1002/da.20759 (accessed July 18, 2013).

Stein, Dan. “Social anxiety disorder in the West and in the East.” Annals of Clinical Psychiatry. (2009): 109-117. https://www.aacp.com/pdf/2102/2102ACP_Review3.pdf (accessed July 18, 2013).

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