I chose Koro as my culture bound syndrome. I found an article in the American Journal of Psychiatry about the sociocultural study of Koro epidemics in Guangdong, China. Koro is defined as a culture-based syndrome characterized by panic due to fear of genital retraction. The disease has been primarily reported among southern coastal China and the many archipelago islands around as well as Malaysia and Singapore — who both originally were populated from southern Chinese. The inhabitants of these islands are predominantly peasants or fisherman and because they lived in such rural areas they were generally not well educated. Their lives are still considerably influenced by ancient beliefs in gods and ghosts and they still hold on to special sex related beliefs that have to do with the traditional concept of Yin-Yang and the theory of harmony and store of vitality. They believe semen is a precious substance and that “every 100 grains of rice make 1 drop of blood and 100 drops of blood make 1 drop of semen” They believed a man should limit his sexual desires and activities because losing a lot of semen would weaken the mind and body.
A majority of the cases involved men and 60% of the total cases the subjects had brief panic conditions that usually resided for 20-60 minutes some had second panic attacks and some had multiple and when the panic episodes stopped most subjects recovered completely. This article was examining sociocultural factors that led to Koro epidemics in these regions throughout the decades. A huge factor to the contribution of these epidemics was from the panic and hysterical atmosphere of the community that intensified the fear and facilitated the spread of more panic. The authors concluded that because of its geographical seclusion and widespread local cultural beliefs and practices they have prevented the spread of the panic syndrome to other areas of the Guangdong province and have confined the epidemics of Koro to the local isolated regions for several decades.
Tseng, Wen-Shing, Mo Kan-Ming, Jing Hsu, Li Li-Shuen, Ou Li-Wah, Chen Guo-Qian, and Jiang Da-Wei. “A Sociocultural Study of Koro Epidemics in Guangdong, China.” American Journal of Psychiatry 145: 1538. http://www.sociodep.hku.hk/bbf/BBF%20Readings%20W5/W5%20Sociocultural%20Study%20of%20Koro%20Epidemic.pdf (accessed July 18, 2014).