Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp 519–528 | Cite as

Dhat syndrome: A culture-bound sex neurosis of the orient

  • H. K. Malhotra
  • N. N. Wig

Abstract

The Indian Dhat syndrome is a culture-bound symptom complex. The clinical picture includes severe anxiety and hypochondriasis. The patient is preoccupied with the excessive loss of semen by nocturnal emissions. There is a fear that semen is being lost. and mixed in urine. A study was carried out to investigate the cultural basis of the Dhat syndrome. One hundred and seven respondents from the general public were interviewed. A vignette describing an individual having nocturnal emissions was read aloud to the respondents. Attitudes toward nocturnal emission, its causes, and its management were investigated. A large segment of the general public from all socioeconomic classes believed that semen loss is harmful. Seminal fluid is considered an elixir of life both in the physical and in the mystical sense. Its preservation guarantees health, longevity, and supernatural powers. This belief is more frequent in lower socioeconomic classes. The susceptible individual reacts to the prevalent belief system and to the fears of semen loss. The symptoms usually disappear if the misconceptions about semen loss are effectively dealt with. It is expected that with increasing literacy and progress in sex knowledge the syndrome will become less common.

Key words

Dhat syndrome Orient neurosis sex 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Aggarwal, A. K. (1970). Treatment of impotence.Indian J. Psychiat. 12: 88–96.Google Scholar
  2. Brill, A. A. (1913). Piblokto or hysteria among Peary's eskimos.J. Nerv. Ment. Dis. 40: 514.Google Scholar
  3. Carstairs, G. M. (1961).The Twice Born Indiana University Press, Bloomington.Google Scholar
  4. Charak Samhita (1949). Shree Gulab Kunuverba Ayurvedic Society, Jamnagar, India.Google Scholar
  5. Comfort, A. (1967).The Anxiety Makers: Some Curious Preoccupations of the Medical Profession Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd., London.Google Scholar
  6. Gajapathi Raju, P.S.S.R. (1970): Spermatorrhoea.Probe, Vol. 2, No. 4.Google Scholar
  7. Gandhi, M. K. (1957).Self-restraint Versus Self-indulgence Navjivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, India.Google Scholar
  8. Goel, D. S. (1968). A study of fifty-one cases of psychogenic impotence with a view to investigate their aetiology and psychopathology and to assess various psychotherapeutic procedures in Indian situations. M.D. thesis, Delhi University, Delhi, India.Google Scholar
  9. Hock, E. M. (1966). A pattern of neurosis in India.Am. J. Psychoanal. 20: 1.Google Scholar
  10. Joshi, S. K. (1965). Syndrome of Dhat in the male.Maharashtra Med. J. 12: 9.Google Scholar
  11. Kama Sutra of Vatsyana (1967). R & K Publishing House, New Delhi, India.Google Scholar
  12. Khazan Chand, K. (1968)Sex Guidebook Vijay Pharmacy Regd., Delhi.Google Scholar
  13. Koestler, A. (1961).The Lotus and the Robot Macmillan, New York.Google Scholar
  14. Krishna Rao, B. (1955). Some aspects of impotence in the male.Antiseptic, Vol. 52, No. 5 (May).Google Scholar
  15. Kuppuswamy, B. (1962).Manual of Socio-economic Scale (Urban) Manasyan, Delhi, India.Google Scholar
  16. Lehmann, H. E. (1967). Psychiatric disorders not in standard nomenclature. In Freedman, A. M., Kaplan, H. I., and Kaplan, H. S. (eds.),Comprehensive Text Book of Psychiatry Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore, pp. 1150–61.Google Scholar
  17. Malhotra, H. K. (1972). A study of the concept of mental illness in the general public. Thesis for M.D. in psychiatry submitted to Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.Google Scholar
  18. Mishra, R. S. (1963).The Textbook of Yoga Psychology Julian Press, New York.Google Scholar
  19. Nakra, B.R.S. (1971). A psychosocial study of male potency disorders. Mimeographed M.D. thesis, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.Google Scholar
  20. Neki, J. S. (1972). The ascetic syndrome. Mimeographed, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.Google Scholar
  21. Neki, J. S. (1973). Psychiatry in South-east Asia.Brit. J. Psychiat. 123: 256–269.Google Scholar
  22. Ngui, P. W. (1969). The Koro epidemic in Singapore.Aust. New Zeal. J. Psychiat. 113: 263–266.Google Scholar
  23. Pacion, S. J. (1973). Gandhi's struggle with sexuality.Med. Aspects Hum. Sexuality, pp. 73–93 (January).Google Scholar
  24. Still, E. R., and Strong, R. (1945).Diagnosis, Prevention and Treatment of Tropical Diseases Blakiston, New York.Google Scholar
  25. Sukhtankar, V. R. (1960). A peculiar anxiety syndrome; nightmare of millions.Indian Practitioner, December.Google Scholar
  26. Sushruta Samhita (1938). Ed. Vaidya Yadavji Trikamji Acharya, Nirnaya Sagar Press, Bombay, India.Google Scholar
  27. Tseng Wen Shing (1973). The development of psychiatric concepts in traditional Chinese medicine.Arch. Gen. Psychiat. 29: 569–575.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Wig, N. N. (1960). Problem of mental health in India.J. Clin. Soc. Med. College. Lucknow, India, 17(2): 48.Google Scholar
  29. Wig, N. N., and Akhtar, S. (1974). Twenty-five years of psychiatric research in India: A reappraisal with some suggestions for the future.Indian J. Psychiat. 16: 48–64.Google Scholar
  30. Wise, T. A. (1840).A Commentary on the Hindu System of Medicine Thacker, Calcutta.Google Scholar
  31. Yap, P. M. (1951). Mental diseases peculiar to certain cultures; a survey of comparative psychiatry.J. Ment. Sci. 97: 313.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Yap, P. M. (1952). The Latah reaction: Its pathodynamics and nosological position.J. Ment. Sci. 98: 515.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Yap, P. M. (1965). Koro — A culture bound depersonalisation syndrome.Brit. J. Psychiat. 111: 43.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. K. Malhotra
    • 1
  • N. N. Wig
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryCollege of Medicine and Dentistry of New JerseyEast OrangeUSA
  2. 2.Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and ResearchChandigarhIndia

Personalised recommendations