Can a delusional-disorder be contagious?

| David Lewis | Health

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Oh yes! Very contagious, in fact, it can be epidemic-rate contagious! Koro is a delusional-disorder in which an individual has a sudden overpowering belief that one’s genitalia is retracting and will disappear; despite the absence of any physical alteration in his, or hers, genitals. In other words, they see the change even when it doesn’t exist

In women, it manifests in a conviction that their breasts and/or genital organs, shrink and will lead to death, no less. 

If you find Koro a little strange so far, get ready for the really bizarre part – although a mental delusion, Koro acts and spreads like a plague. It can appear in one individual and soon “infect” his entire village.

The largest recorded Koro outburst was in China between 1949-1948. The epidemic lasted for more than a year and was evident among more than 3,000 people living in 16 different cities and districts.

Koro is mostly observed in Southeast Asia and Africa, where the disease outburst is often interpreted as genitalia theft by witches hired by personal enemies.   

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And for those who are really into genitalia disappearance, here are some more facts:

 In the late Middle Ages in Europe, the belief that a man might lose his penis by witchcraft attacks was widespread. The genitals were supposed to reappear only after the man appeased the witch responsible for the spell. The witches were said to have been asked to store the allegedly stolen and removed genitals, in bird nests or in boxes. During 1880, at least three publications in the United States, Russia, and England have reported genitalia withdrawal. 

 Koro’s disease in China was first reported in a French report from 1908. the clinical books of Western medicine in 1936. It was only in 1950 that Koro was finally acknowledged as a psychiatry problem.

In the early 1970s and early 1980s, newspapers reported cases of contraction and genital withdrawal in western Nigeria. At the end of 1996, there was a relatively small scale outbreak in some West African countries. The victims of the African outbreaks interpreted the experience of the Koro, as if a person they knew had stolen their genitals and their sexual organs, which meant impotence.

Apparently, the belief that a close associate stole the patient’s genital organs, originates in a traditional local belief – the “Jogo Spell”. According to Jogo, the human genital is stolen for the purpose of feeding the transcendent entity or for the purpose of which the transcendent entity holds the patient’s genital for a ransom.

 Social representations of the Jogo create a reality that is agreed upon by all individuals in the same culture that offer the explanation and motive for the genital contraction experiences.

In 1997 in Benin (Africa) crowds were reported to have attacked individuals on charges of “pines theft”, resulting in 5 “penis thieves” killed. Later Koro outbreak has been reported across West Africa, mainly in Sudan (September 2003), Gambia (October 2003), and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2008).

And for those who are really into genitalia disappearance, here are some more facts:

 In the late Middle Ages in Europe, the belief that a man might lose his penis by witchcraft attacks was widespread. The genitals were supposed to reappear only after the man appeased the witch responsible for the spell. The witches were said to have been asked to store the allegedly stolen and removed genitals, in bird nests or in boxes. During 1880, at least three publications in the United States, Russia, and England have reported genitalia withdrawal. 

 Koro’s disease in China was first reported in a French report from 1908. the clinical books of Western medicine in 1936. It was only in 1950 that Koro was finally acknowledged as a psychiatry problem.

In the early 1970s and early 1980s, newspapers reported cases of contraction and genital withdrawal in western Nigeria. At the end of 1996, there was a relatively small scale outbreak in some West African countries. The victims of the African outbreaks interpreted the experience of the Koro, as if a person they knew had stolen their genitals and their sexual organs, which meant impotence.

Apparently, the belief that a close associate stole the patient’s genital organs, originates in a traditional local belief – the “Jogo Spell”. According to Jogo, the human genital is stolen for the purpose of feeding the transcendent entity or for the purpose of which the transcendent entity holds the patient’s genital for a ransom.

 Social representations of the Jogo create a reality that is agreed upon by all individuals in the same culture that offer the explanation and motive for the genital contraction experiences.

In 1997 in Benin (Africa) crowds were reported to have attacked individuals on charges of “pines theft”, resulting in 5 “penis thieves” killed. Later Koro outbreak has been reported across West Africa, mainly in Sudan (September 2003), Gambia (October 2003), and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2008).