culture-specific disorders

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Conditions uniquely associated with a certain culture include unusual behavioral disorders, such as “amok,” which occurs among Malays, with a period of quiet, solitary brooding followed by an outburst of violently destructive, sometimes homicidal, conduct. Chinese men can experience an acute hysterical state called “koro,” in which they believe their penis is shrinking and will disappear into the abdomen. In Haiti and Jamaica, a form of black magic called “voodoo” is associated with evil spells that induce debility and death. Female genital mutilation, originally a tribal custom in northeast Africa, often causes difficult childbirth and chronic vulval and urinary infections. A culture-specific disorder in the United States is the high mortality and injury rate associated with easy access to and frequent use of firearms in interpersonal violence.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.

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