What Is a Culture Bond Theory?

According to the British Journal of Psychiatry, culture bond theory is an idea within medical anthropology which identifies particular diseases as cultural rather than legitimate. In other words, some cultures identify symptoms and diseases that are not real and are not found outside of that particular culture.

According to the British Journal of Psychiatry, anthropologists find the study of culture bond theory significant, as it illustrates the deeply rooted anxieties of a culture. They use five steps to identify a culture-specific disease. They question whether a disease exists in a given culture, whether the majority of a demographic within the culture are familiar with the disease, whether there is any familiarity with disease outside of that culture, whether there is any biochemical proof of the disease, and whether the disease is treated with folk medicine.

The British Journal of Psychology discusses the case of dhat, a culturally specific semen-loss anxiety endemic to India and Sri Lanka. In the study, researchers sifted through previous research concerning semen-loss anxiety, dhat and cultural bond syndrome in India, as well as other small indigenous regions in Southeast Asia. The existence of dhat illustrates the anxieties regarding male inadequacy within the culture. Through the men’s hypochondria regarding semen loss, they created symptoms, thereby justifying further anxiety and depression and explaining any eventual semen loss.