Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 401–416 | Cite as

Idioms of Distress Revisited

  • Mark NichterEmail author

I am pleased to have this opportunity to offer some reflections on what I have foreseen as an idioms-of-distress research agendum, and some thoughts on what an idioms-of-distress assessment adds to anthropological research on human suffering and culturally informed therapy facilitation in clinical settings. The term idioms of distress has now been in circulation for 30 years and has clearly taken on a life of its own. It was used in DSM IV and is likely to be considered for use in DSM V. A point of discussion in psychiatry at the moment is whether idioms of distress and “culture syndromes” are redundant terms or whether they refer to different phenomena.1I weigh in on this issue as well as address two critiques of the way the term idioms of distress has been conceptualized by some scholars. I suggest that a distinction among idioms of distress, cultural idioms of distress and cultural syndromes is warranted. And I suggest that the two critiques of idioms of distress reviewed are...


Sexual Infidelity Cultural Symbol Spirit Possession Gulf Syndrome Open Mole 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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