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Mass delusions of genital shrinking sweeping Africa and Asia

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Joking about size is old hat in the West, but it’s no joke in parts of Africa and Asia where waves of a psychological condition called koro are causing mass panic and a bloody end to those accused of this non-existent crime.

According to LiveScience:

…[V]ictims (mostly men, but sometimes women) come to believe that their genitals are shrinking or retracting into the body. The concern is not only for their sexuality, but also for their lives, since they believe that the condition may be life threatening if not reversed. In order to prevent further shrinkage, victims have been known to securely tie their penises with string or metal clamps — even sometimes having family members hold it in relays until treatment can be sought, usually from shamen or traditional healers.

It is thought that an underlying cultural belief in witchcraft makes the idea plausible and so strangers are caught off guard and often attacked when a man or woman believes inadvertent contact has caused their penis, vagina or breasts to shrink or disappear.

Of course, we Westerners can laugh all we want but it wasn’t all that long ago we were burning people at the stake for having moles.

Full story at LiveScience.

More from anthropology.

Photo credit: Fotolia

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