In 1967, a strange series of events unfolded on the island of Singapore. Hundreds of men rushed to the hospitals of the island with the terrifying belief that their penises were shrinking. Each feared that if his penis shrank away completely, he would die. Some came with lucky red strings tightly wrapped around their penises to prevent the lethal disappearance. Others had clamps holding their wayward organs in place. Most often it was a firm grasp of a hand, their own or a frightened family member’s, that prevented the shrinking penis from slipping away and taking their life with it.
This was "The Great Koro Epidemic of 1967". According to American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Koro is a culture-specific syndrome delusional disorder in which an individual has an overpowering belief that one's genitalia are retracting and will disappear, despite the lack of any true longstanding changes to the genitals.
Oddly enough, about a dozen women also fell victim to the panic.
This strange penis attack is now recorded in a book : The Great Singapore Penis Panic and the Future of American Mass Hysteria. Available on Amazon. The Great Singapore Penis Panic and the Future of American Mass Hysteria explains the basis of koro in Chinese medicine, and how and why something so peculiar as the Singapore Koro epidemic could have happened when it did.
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