Latah in South-East Asia: The History and Ethnography of a Culture-bound Syndrome

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Overview

"Latah," the Malayan hyperstartle pattern, has fascinated Western observers since the late nineteenth century and is widely regarded as a "culture-bound syndrome." Dr Winzeler critically reviews the literature on the subject, and presents new ethnographic information based on his own fieldwork in Malaya and Borneo. He considers the biological and psychological hypotheses that have been proposed to account for "latah," and explains the way in which local people understand it. Arguing that latah has specific social uses, he concludes that it is not generally appropriate to regard it as an "illness" or "syndrome."
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Editorial Reviews

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"...he has produced a quantum jump in the number of known cases and in our knowledge of many of their specifics." Transcultural Psychiatric Research Review
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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of maps and tables
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: the problem of latah 1
Pt. I The problem of latah 9
1 The study of latah 11
2 Latah, history, and gender 25
3 "Latah" elsewhere 33
Pt. II Latah, society, and culture 53
4 Latah in Kelantan: an overview 55
5 Latah and Malay culture 74
6 Symbolic meanings and social uses 92
Pt. III Borneo comparisons and perspectives 107
7 Latah in Borneo 109
8 Latah and the Iban 119
Pt. IV Conclusions 127
9 Explaining latah: paradigm and paradox, syndrome and ritual, nature and culture 129
Glossary 137
Notes 141
Bibliography 156
Index 169
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