The article I chose to summarize is called “Brain Fag Syndrome – a myth or a reality”. Brain Fag Syndrome (BFS) is identified in DSM-IV as a cultural bound syndrome. BFS symptoms and complaints consist of those of cognitive impairments, problems sleeping and other kinds of somatic impairments relating to inabilities to understand words or to concentrate. This illness is first mentioned in the 1960’s among African students. This article goes into detail about BFS’s history, especially that dealing with the perspectives given on it by Traditional medicine, Psychoanalysis, Biopsychological and Transcultural psychiatry. It concludes that BFS is real and is best recognized in the structure of psychiatry, psychology, and sociology. The treatment of BFS though is one that needs to have further research and attention given to.
As mentioned before Brain Fag Syndrome deals with more cognitive impairments and complaints that involve neurological uses (ex: optical impairments). BFS has been seen in students from multiple African countries, from Nigeria, to Uganda, to Liberia and South Africa. This article does a good job looking into BFS literature from the 1960’s – 1979 in countries mentioned above as well as others. It also does an excellent job talking about gender biases in their reviewed literature that would suggest that Brain Fag was commoner in males, which is speculative because many times there would be a greater number of males in the education system.
This article stresses the importance of looking at patterns of symptoms to determine if a person has BFS. The article specifically says “Any cultural belief that may be related to stresses encountered or coping mechanisms used will need elaboration [in the further study of BFS] so that underlying cultural attributes can be revealed” (BA Ola 142). This observation is really important if treatment response and outcomes are to be studied further in the future which is what this article stresses near its conclusion. Treatment methods themselves were not discussed in this article, but by the quote mentioned above from the article it is clear that BFS could be treated by any of the models/sectors depending on the person’s cultural background.
BA Ola, O Morakinyo, AO Adewuya. “Brain Fag Syndrome – a myth or a reality,” African Journal of Psychiatry 2009;12: 135-143, Accessed July 18, 2014. http://ajop.co.za/Journals/May2009/May09_6.pdf