The article that I found was written by Manuel L. Saint Martin, M.D., and J.D. In his article he described what Amok was, when it was first discovered, possible explanations, modern versions of Amok, and how to prevent it. His definition of Amok or Running Amok is, “an irrational acting individual who causes havoc.” Captain Cook first found it among the Malay tribesmen in 1770. Later was the culture-bound syndrome found in Laos, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, and Puerto Rico. Saint Martin stated that it was found that due to the geographic location of these areas, the remote isolation, and the spiritual beliefs of the people living there supported the production of the mental illness not reported in other nations. The violent outburst were said to be caused by the “hantu belian” or the evil tiger spirit. The people affected by the spirit would go into fits of rage. Most episodes would result in numerous deaths and other victims being injured. As anthropologists looked into Amok, in recent years they believed that the episodes were due to psychosis, a personality disorder, or a delusional disorder. The violent episodes are usually set off due to a preceding factor such as money trouble, death in the family, or any other traumatic event that could affect someone.
Biologically, Amok is due to mental illness that has gone untreated. To prevent someone from running Amok they need prompt treatment of the underlying condition like I have stated earlier. Culturally speaking Amok could be looked at differently in different areas of the world. In these areas I have mentioned, it is believed to be caused by the evil tiger spirit. If someone were to run Amok in a modern Western society we would classify it as psychosis, or a personality disorder. However, in Western societies there is more treatment for those disorders versus in Malaysia or the other locations I mentioned. Treatment could be going to a psychiatrist or psychologist, taking bi-polar prescription medications, or even being institutionalized in a mental illness hospital.
Saint Martin, Manuel L. “Running Amok: A Modern Perspective on a Culture-Bound Syndrome.”