It’s difficult to establish how many Koro syndrome cases there have been due to lack of research on the disorder.
One of the most comprehensive looks into the syndrome comes from James W. Edwards’ 1984 analysis, Indigenous Koro, A Genital Retraction Syndrome Of Insular Southeast Asia: A Critical Review.
Edwards describes Koro as one of the “least known culture-bound syndromes of Southeast Asia”.
In the year his research was published, cases of Genital Retraction Syndrome soared in China.
The 1984-85 epidemic affected 3,000 people over 16 cities and a mental health campaign was even put in to place.
An epidemic also occurred in Singapore nearly two decades earlier on October 29, 1967.
According to a 1969 report written by 10 doctors for the Singapore Medical Journal, this outbreak spanned 10 days and at the height of it 97 men visited the emergency unit of Singapore General Hospital in a single day.
In total, doctors examined 454 men over this week and a half and 98% of them were Chinese.
Similar panic was sparked in Western Nigeria in the 1970s and 1980s.
In these instances, many patients believed their genitals were being stolen for occult reasons.
Genital retraction syndrome has proven to be a lot rarer in Britain – so the recent Nottingham case is bound to surprise doctors.
Research published in Behavioural Neurology reports that a 56-year-old man was diagnosed with the condition in 1986.
Medical notes reveal that the married patient suffered “major depression” and “obsessions” about his “change of penis size”.
The British Journal of Psychiatry also records a instance of Koro syndrome.
It tells of a 21-year-old who “was admitted to a psychiatric hospital suffering from severe anxiety” in the 70s.
It adds: “After discharge he was walking down a street one afternoon when he suddenly felt his penis shrinking to ‘about half an inch in length’…
“(He) claimed his penis was disappearing into him.
“He feared it would disappear altogether, and that he would then die.”
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