Arctic Hysteria Syndrome

Arctic Hysteria Syndrome, also known as pibloktoq or piblokto among Eskimos, is one of a group of aberrant behaviors occurring among Arctic and Circumarctic societies termed 'arctic hysterias'. Piblokto is an abrupt dissociative episode with four phases: social withdrawal, excitement, convulsions and stupor, and recovery. The signs and symptoms include uncontrolled screaming, unruly behaviour, hysteria, depression and tearing off ones clothes despite the extreme cold. The disturbance has been reported for males and females, adults and children, and dogs.
The Arctic Hysteria Syndrome is predominantly dissociative in nature[1] and possibly results from feelings of extreme loneliness and aloneness, the white landscape that has virtually no features and the long, seemingly endless nights. It may therefore be a form of sensory deprivation.

Another explanation of the problem is hypervitaminosis A. Eskimo nutrition provides abundant sources of vitamin A, through ingestion of livers, kidneys, and fat of arctic fish and mammals, where the vitamin often is stored in poisonous quantities. The somatic and behavioral effects of hypervitaminosis A closely resemble those of Arctic Hysteria Syndrome[2].

But there's a problem with Arctic Hysteria Syndrome: some contest that it exists and research indicated that the information based on reports of only eight cases. Furthermore, the words 'piblokto' or 'pibloktoq' do not exist within the language of the Eskimos.

[1] Ross et al: Dissociation and symptoms of culture-bound syndromes in North America: a preliminary study in Journal of Trauma and Dissociation – 2013
[2] Landy: Pibloktoq (hysteria) and Inuit nutrition: possible implication of hypervitaminosis A in Social Science and Medicine – 1985

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