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, 11 (3), 337-56

Premenstrual Syndrome as a Western Culture-Specific Disorder


Premenstrual Syndrome as a Western Culture-Specific Disorder

T M Johnson. Cult Med Psychiatry.


Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) has a phenomenology resembling many culture-bound (culture-specific) syndromes described in the anthropological literature. Viewed as a culture-specific syndrome, PMS is an appropriate symbolic representation of conflicting societal expectations that women be both productive and reproductive. By simultaneously denying either alternative, PMS translates role conflict into a standardized cultural idiom. Thus, despite obvious biopsychological determinants, PMS is best understood as a sociocultural phenomenon illustrating both the special status of women in Western culture and the ethnocentrism of Western anthropology which heretofore has only recently begun to identify culture-specific syndromes in its own back yard.

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