Culture-bound syndromes: Windigo Psychosis, Susta, Latah, Amok, Pibloktoq
Culture-bound syndromes are disorders which are thought to be seen only within specific cultures. There is much debate over these culture-bound syndromes. Some people believe that these disorders are simply expressions and perceptions of syndromes which exist across other cultures. Others believe that culture-bound syndromes arise due to differences in the enculturation/socialization process, or from biological differences, and that these syndromes are truly unique to these cultures. We are still not sure, but Culture-bound syndromes such as latah, amok, windigo psychosis, susto, and pibloktoq can be very interesting to study.
Latah Culture-Bound Syndrome
Latah is a mental disorder and Culture-bound syndrome seen in Indonesia, Malaysia, and areas or the Philippines which is characterized by an individual (most commonly a middle-aged woman) going into a fit of swearing, dancing, screaming, and hysterical laughter. These fits under latah are often triggered by being scared. They latah stricken may repeat phrases or imitate behaviors helplessly. . Common triggers of latah are as simple as hearing the word, snake or being tickled. Some people find these fits funny and purposely trigger them in people they know are affected by latah. Many of those who suffer from latah say that their disorder arose after a traumatic experience. (McLaren & Ringe, http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/electronic-publications/stay-free/archives/21/mental_illness.html) (Scupin, 2008)
Amok Culture-Bound Syndrome
The amok Culture-bound syndrome is an unfortunate one. After being insulted, the individual goes into a period of withdrawal and depressed brooding. During this time they may experience insomnia and drink large amounts of alcohol. After some period, the individual has a murderous outburst that does not end until they are dead or have been restrained. If they survive they often have no recollection of the events. Interestingly, there is only one female who experienced amok. wedding bridesmaid dresses . I also find it interesting that the word amok has transferred over to the English language as a term to describe someone running wild. (McLaren & Ringe, http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/electronic-publications/stay-free/archives/21/mental_illness.html) (Scupin, 2008)
Windigo Psychosis Culture-Bound Syndrome
Those affected by the windigo psychosis Culture-bound syndrome go into a state in which they believe they have been possessed by the spirit of a cannibalistic being called Windigo. Windigo is a mythological creature seen in the history of the Algonquin Indians. Windigo psychosis has been seen across other tribes such as the Cree and Chippewa. Those under windigo psychosis have urges to eat human flesh, while ironically becoming paranoid of being a cannibal. Some of those who experience windigo psychosis have asked to be killed before they harm anyone. The rate of Native American individuals who experience windigo psychosis has dropped as their culture assimilates into modern society. (http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/2530880) (Scupin, 2008)
Susto Culture-Bound Syndrome
Susto Culture-bound syndrome is thought of as a loss of soul or an attack by spirits. Susto is seen in Latin America, most often in women who are culturally stressed. Denver IKEA . There are several home remedies that are said to improve the Susto condition (although this could be placebo and not help the Susto), and the condition also improves after gaining official knowledge of susto. (http://www.rice.edu/projects/HispanicHealth/Courses/mod7/susto.html)
Pibloktoq Culture-Bound Syndrome
Pibloktoq is another condition which initially involves an individual withdrawing from society, then randomly having an outburst. The disorder is experienced by Eskimo (Inuit) people in arctic regions. The outburst may include tearing off clothes and running through the snow, jumping into a fire, speaking in tongues, among other things. Some think Pibloktoq may be an extreme form of Cabin Fever. (Scrupin, 2008)
My first thoughts after reading about these culture-bound syndromes like latah, amok, windigo psychosis, susto, and pibloktoq was that several of them seem to have a lot of things in common. They often begin with a period of depression after some trigger, then lead to an outburst. They may believe that they have become possessed. The main difference is how the outburst is dealt with. Some lead to violence, while others divert the pain to themselves instead by jumping in a fire or in the snow. The Culture-bound syndrome could all be closely related and come out in different ways because of differences in culture.Initially I had a somewhat ethnocentric response to a few of these culture-bound syndromes (latah, amok, windigo psychosis, susto, and pibloktoq). I believe it is nearly impossible to avoid having at least a slight bias based on the culture which you are accustomed to when it comes to Culture-bound syndromes. appliance repair marietta . It is hard not to think of these people as being barbaric (as the case with windigo which involves cannibalism), or just insane. We almost never see people experience things like this in western society, but these Culture-bound syndromes Windigo psychosis, Susta, Latah, Amok, Pibloktoq are just another part of life.