Posted on | January 10, 2012 | 25 Comments
“Anyone who follows psychiatry has noticed that the field is now in the midst of a debate that galvanizes its members every 10 to 20 years. At the center of the hubbub is psychiatry’s most sacred text: the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. . . .
“If you turn to page 898 of the current edition — past the glossary and the alphabetical index of diagnoses — you’ll find a list of 25 little-known illnesses. These are the ‘culture-bound syndromes’: mental illnesses that psychiatrists officially acknowledge occur only within a particular society. Take, for instance . . . pibloktoq, also known as ‘arctic hysteria,’ in which Greenlandic Inuit strip off all their clothes and run out into the subzero Arctic tundra.”
— Latif Nasser, Boston Globe, “Do some cultures have their own ways of going mad?”
When I left home the day after Christmas, leaving before dawn to fly off to Iowa, I was in a cheerful mood, and I remained optimistic even when I was forced to return the black Mustang to the rental agency.
But the past few days in New Hampshire, I’ve begun feeling increasingly glum, and uncharacteristic mood-swing that I at first attributed to being forced to take the Jon Huntsman campaign seriously. Later, I thought maybe I was bummed out by hanging around with those squishy RINOs from National Review during Saturday night’s debate.
It wasn’t until I picked up Sunday’s Boston Globe and saw that story about “arctic hysteria” that I realized I must be suffering from the same problem that affects the Greenlandic Inuit.
Perhaps this “culture-bound syndrome” known as pibloktoq has seized hold of me here in this gloomy northern climate. Perhaps there was an overlooked Inuit somewhere in my family tree whose hereditary influence is now causing me to suffer bizarre mood swings involving strange impulses.
All of this is to explain that I’m now about to hit the road to Manchester, where I’ll be covering the Primary Night excitement in New Hampshire. And if anyone sees me running around Manchester naked . . .
Well, that’s just the Inuit in me.