Culture and Panic Disorder

By Devon E. Hinton; Byron J. Good | Go to book overview

8
Gendered Panic in Southern Thailand
'Lom' (“Wind”) Illness and 'Wuup' (“Upsurge”) Illness

Pichet Udomratn and Devon E. Hinton

PANIC VARIES RADICALLY depending on how it and its somatic symptoms are labeled, and on the illnesses it is thought to indicate. In this chapter we examine the relationship between panic disorder (PD) and certain illness categories in Southern Thailand. As the chapter illustrates, cultural beliefs and practices profoundly shape the panic experience. Assessing for the presence of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) criteria is just the beginning of the exploration of panic phenomenology in a particular culture; it is a view from the outside, not a description of panics inner workings, which are culturally (and individually) variable.

The material in the current chapter is drawn from cases treated by the first author, Dr. Pichet Udomratn. Dr. Udomratn works as a psychiatrist in a university hospital clinic in Southern Thailand. Many of his patients come from rural areas. For the present chapter, he chose cases he believed to be typical of how PD manifests in Southern Thailand. The second author, Dr. Devon E. Hinton, an anthropologist and psychiatrist, has performed extensive fieldwork in Thailand, mainly in Northeastern Thailand (Hinton 1999).

Thailand consists of four main cultural areas designated on the basis of language: Northern Thailand, Northeastern Thailand, Central Thailand (that is, Bangkok and its surrounding area), and Southern Thailand. In each area, the dialects are quite different, although mutually understandable to a large degree. Southern Thailand has certain unique features, including a large Islamic minority and an extensive rubber industry.

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