Dhat syndrome: fear of losing vital fluids

Dhat syndrome is a culture-bound mental disorder seen in Asia, among certain cultures in India. A man is afraid of losing vital fluids through his sperm. It is also called sexual neurosis. This condition can take serious forms, whereby a person is afraid of losing important vital fluids through the urine. It usually occurs in men, but in some cases this fear is also seen in women.

What it is

Dhat syndrome, also called dhat or sex neurosis, is a psychological disorder in which a person is afraid of losing vital fluids through semen. It is seen in Asia, among certain cultures in India. Literally, dhatu means: life juice. The fear sometimes takes on hypochondriacal forms, where a person may develop a fear of losing semen during urination. Although it usually occurs in men, there are some women who suffer from dhat syndrome. They are afraid of losing vital life fluids through the vaginal fluid, which in those cultures is also seen as a vital life fluid.

The symptoms

It usually occurs in young men. There is usually a feeling of exhaustion and weakness, which can lead to insomnia. The appetite may disappear and a person is guided by feelings of anxiety. Other characteristics may be that someone suffers from sexual problems such as premature ejaculation or impotence. Sometimes the man thinks that this is the result of self-gratification and suffers from a strong feeling of guilt. They sometimes feel that the penis has become smaller as a result.

Where does it occur?

In Ayurvedic literature from 1500 BC, semen is already described as a vital lifeblood. This sexual disorder also occurs in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, China and parts of Southeast Asia. In the past, some cultures believed that masturbation was a major sin and that it would cause the penis to shrink and possibly disappear completely from the body.

Therapy

No physical abnormalities have been found in people suffering from dhat syndrome and it has not been shown that they lose vital bodily fluids when ejaculating. It is a culture-bound mental illness that is seen as a serious condition. Often there is another psychological condition, such as depression. Treatment will consist of cognitive behavioral therapy, sometimes including medication for anxiety or depression.

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