The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'culture-bound syndromes'
In this pre-Valentine's Day romance-related-article silly season, health experts are claiming that unrequited love is a real illness that can kill.
He said many are "destabilised by falling in love, or suffer on account of their love being unrequited" and this could lead to a suicide attempt. Few studies deal with the "specific problem of lovesickness", he said.
Which sounds like a bit of a cop-out to me; I don't doubt that unrequited love has caused many mental breakdowns and suicides, though I wonder how much of that comes from the biology of the condition and how much comes from the social expectation that, when someone you fancy doesn't fancy you, you're entitled to whine, pout, go all emo and become temporarily unresponsible for your behaviour. For example, during the Victorian era, many women would faint in certain social situations. This was not due to the biology of the female gender being susceptible to sudden consciousness loss, but due to programmed-in social expectation. Could it be that losing one's shit over that one special person in the world who doesn't reciprocate one's passion is a similar case of cultural conditioning?
(Which is not to say that romantic love or sexual attraction is culturally constructed; I don't for a moment entertain the blank-slate theory of human nature. However, it's more than conceivable the expectations of how such urges are expressed, and how much they can affect one's behaviour, are strongly influenced by cultural expectations, and that, as biological and physical causes of behaviours are revealed, they gain more influence as the self-sustaining illusion of the sovereign free will becomes weakened.)
Then again, now that unrequited love is recognised as a bona fide medical condition, perhaps some pharmaceutical company will seize the opportunity and bring out an anti-unrequited-love drug, a sort of Prozac for the heart which quickly and conveniently cures this debilitating ailment, further streamlining the human condition.
Researchers in the Netherlands have isolated a new medical condition: leisure sickness. It afflicts about 3% of the population, who become ill if they stop working, commonly experiencing fatigue, muscular pains or nausea on weekends or flu-like symptoms during vacations.
"Relaxing can be very stressful for a lot of people. When they got off the treadmill of life their immune system collapses. Sometimes that is the only way they can relax. But leisure time can also be stressful because it means the day is unstructured, people have to re-establish relationships and spend time with their families."
Those most afflicted by this syndrome are those with a heavy workload or a high sense of responsibility. Another reason to repent, quit your job and slack off? (via FmH)
A nifty list of culture-bound syndromes, from exotic ones like Koro and ghost sickness to Western syndromes such as anorexia (both secular and religious). (via bOING bOING)