In the last few years there has been a great revival of interest in culture-bound psychiatric syndromes. A spate of new papers has been published on well known and less familiar syndromes, and there have been a number of attempts to put some order into the field of inquiry. In a review of the literature on culture-bound syndromes up to 1969 Yap made certain suggestions for organizing thinking about them which for the most part have not received general acceptance (see Carr, this volume, p. 199). Through the seventies new descriptive and conceptual work was scarce, but in the last few years books and papers discussing the field were authored or edited by Tseng and McDermott (1981), AI-Issa (1982), Friedman and Faguet (1982) and Murphy (1982). In 1983 Favazza summarized his understanding of the state of current thinking for the fourth edition of the Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, and a symposium on culture-bound syndromes was organized by Kenny for the Eighth International Congress of Anthropology and Ethnology.
The strong- est impression to emerge from all this recent work is that there is no substantive consensus, and that the very concept, "culture-bound syndrome" could well use some serious reconsideration. As the role of culture-specific beliefs and prac- tices in all affliction has come to be increasingly recognized it has become less and less clear what sets the culture-bound syndromes apart.
`... admirable and essential book. It moves this vexing subject (Culture-Bound Syndromes) to a more fruitful plane of conceptualization and investigation and constitutes a vital contribution to transcultural psychiatry and medical anthropology.'
Social Science and Medicine.
`... the essential basis for any future work in cultural psychiatry or, indeed, any attempt at a taxonomy of Western neurosis. it is the `Book of the Year' for comparative psychiatristis.'
Psychological Medicine (1987)
`This is the first book to examine the concept of culturebound syndromes in a comprehensive manner. It raises important questions about the cultural shaping of all our psychiatric categories of mental illness. This is a major contribution to our understanding of diagnosis in psychiatry.'
Prof. Armando R. Favazza
`This book provides detailed descriptions and discussions of several of the most important of these syndromes. It also provides the best-to-date discussions of the difficulties of fitting the culture-bound syndromes into present nosological categories. The book has the notable advantage of the firm editorship of a psychiatrist and an anthropologist, both of whom have full familiarity with the other's field. The result is a brilliant course between Scylla and Charybdis. With the help of this book and with DSM-III as a culture-bound but innovative model, ICD-10 might well attain truly inernational coverage; those concerned with psychiatric disorders around the world could find that at last they have a classification which approaches relevance to all of their societies and all of their patients.'
R. Prince, M.D., Editor of the Transcultural Psychiatric Research Review
`This important book develops approaches as to whether any specific terms refers to a particular behaviour pattern, to local exegesis or to variants to more universal patterns - and more importantly, what the criteria are by which we can make such a decision. It is essential reading for all mental health workers, psychiatristis, psychologists and social workers, who are concerned with a relationship between psychopathology and culture, and also for social anthropologists concerned with the meanings which cultures ascribe to the natural world.'
Roland Littlewood, Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry, The University of Birmingham and The Institute of Social Anthropology, Oxford University
`... provide the essential basis for any future work in cultural psychiatry or, indeed, any attempt at a taxonomy of Western neurosis. It is the `Book of the Year' for comparative psychiatrists.'
Psychological Medicine, 17 (1987)
`This is an important contribution and should be worthwhile for medical antrhopologists as well as students of psychiatry, psychology, and culture in general.'
The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 174:9 (1986)
`This important contribution to the study of the culturebound syndromes serves to highlights not only areas of mutual interest to researchers in various disciplines but also the several dilemmas that make further advancement in the study of these syndromes problematic.'
Roberta Hall, Oregon State University
`Simons and Hughes have produced a very worthwhile book on this subject, by far the most extensive to date.'
American Anthropologist, 89 (1987)
`...highly recommended to the serious researcher or student in the field.'