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In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Western Europeans and Americans exploring Asia, Africa, South America, Arctic regions, the Pacific Islands, and other unfamiliar parts of the world noted unusual but distinct medical and/or psychiatric syndromes indigenous to countries or circumscribed geographical regions. Mental illnesses as manifested in particular cultural groups have fascinated psychiatrists, anthropologists, and scholars and have been the subject of considerable research. The term culture-bound syndromes was introduced in 1967 to describe disorders that are 1) discrete and well-defined, 2) accepted as a specific disorder in the country of origin, 3) a response to specific precipitants in that culture, and 4) found to occur much more in the "home" culture than in other cultures (Guarnaccia and Rogler 1999; Levine and Gaw 1995). A glossary of 25 culture-bound syndromes was included in DSM-IV in 1994, signaling that these were no longer rare entities of academic interest only (American Psychiatric Association 1994). The increasing cultural diversity of American society, including immigrants from other countries retaining their homeland's beliefs and practices of mental health, as well as the authority attributed to DSM worldwide, compels clinicians to be familiar with these syndromes. (Guarnaccia and Rogler 1999; Tseng 2001). While important to adult cultural psychiatry, little evidence exists that the symptoms and behaviors of specific culture-bound syndromes are common in childhood or adolescence. However, clinicians should remember that children and adolescents from some diverse cultures may have been exposed to adults suffering from culture-bound syndromes and thus should be observed or evaluated for anxiety, depression, acute stress, or posttraumatic stress disorders arising from those experiences.

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