Cultural Factors in Psychosexual Disorders

While diversity is a trait to be celebrated in this world, a lack of understanding of different customs and beliefs can lend itself to awkward situations if approached without care. Where one culture may be eager to discuss some subjects openly, others avoid those and view them as taboos.  In no other aspect of life is this more abundantly clear than with sexuality. Sexuality carries varying biological, moral, and social implications unlike anything else. Some cultures view puberty, for example, as something to be celebrated and known, while others are ignorant or attempt to hide it as greatly as possible. Some cultures view sexual intercourse as natural and not to be denied, while others view it as sacred and immoral if engaged improperly. It is not an issue of which interpretation is “right” or “wrong”; however, what is important is to understand that cultural factors and the views culture has on sexuality have a profound influence on what psychosexual disorders different societies are more vulnerable to.

In youths in particular, masturbation remains a divisive issue. Western psychology popularly espouse the need for a “healthy view” on the subject, otherwise it may have a negative impact on the psychology of an individual. One syndrome with cultural factors to demonstrate is named Koro, otherwise known as genital retraction syndrome (GRS) or “penis panic”. This penis panic syndrome describes the hysteria that males suffer that their penis (or females about their breasts) is retracting or shrinking into the body. This syndrome is commonly associated with the East Asian societies, predominantly in Chinese societies. In one case, in October and November 1967, Singapore endured a mass panic about the spread of penis panic syndrome after it was believed that eating the flesh of pigs caused its spread.

Cultural Factors

Cultural Factors in Psychosexual Disorders

Descriptions of 16 year old boys running into clinics for psychosexual therapy, pulling on their penis to insure it would not disappear made it particularly memorable. Subsequent research has suggested that penis panic is intertwined with societies that preach against the evils of masturbation. Societies that are more open towards masturbation have avoided the same psychosexual disorder.

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In 2007, the American Psychological Association released a report warning that the younger generation, particularly females, were being “psychologically damaged” by the sexualized content in the media and in society. In the same way that sexually repressed society are often characterized as being counterproductive to human health by denying our sexual nature, research has suggested that excessive focus on sexuality sets precedents, standards, and anxieties are internalized and become unhealthy behavior in individuals. Indeed, low self-esteem, depression, and sexual perversions were all linked in the report to the omnipresent focus on sexuality. Such cultural factors compounded together hardly represent the healthy psychosexual development that Freud envisioned. Murderers and sexual predators have long cited popular culture as partly to blame for their habits, as Ted Bundy, a necrophiliac, cited pornography as creating million more Ted Bundy characters. Perhaps that is too fatalistic – that perhaps even the same two people exposed to the same amount of sexualized content can have two different interpretations of its significance. However, to deny at least part of the hyper sexualized culture has on behavior is denying testimony and confessions of those who suffer.

[ad#downcont]The problem with psychosexual therapy is that it was originated and developed by Western psychology. Taboos and sexual perversions are often an issue of culture by which psychologists are attempting to create objectivity out of subjectivity. But, much like psychosexual disorders are never believed to originate from one source or signify one singular thing, the mind simply takes into consideration what is presented in front of it to interpret, whether pleasurable or painful. To make psychosexual disorders an issue of morality somewhat misses the point.

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