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Int J Soc Psychiatry. 1994 Spring;40(1):46-60.

The social psychology of 'epidemic' koro.

Author information

1
Flinders University of South Australia.

Abstract

The few isolated reports of individual koro exhibit a symptomatology indicative of major psychiatric conditions (ie. psychosis or affective disorder), and appear unrelated to collective episodes which involve social, cultural, cognitive and physiological factors in the diffusion of koro-related beliefs. Yet, koro 'epidemics' continue to be viewed as exemplifying mass psychopathology or irrationality. An examination of the similarities between koro 'outbreaks' and a sub-category of behaviour which has been loosely labeled as 'mass hysteria', suggests an alternative, non-psychopathological explanation. In reclassifying 'epidemic' koro as a collective misperception rather than a culture-bound syndrome, it is argued that koro is a rational attempt at problem-solving which involves conformity dynamics, perceptual fallibility and the local acceptance of koro-associated folk realities, which are capable of explaining such episodes as normal within any given population.

PMID:
8005778
DOI:
10.1177/002076409404000105
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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