Koro Syndrome

September 16, 2010 By arne hendriks 0

The Incredible Shrinking Man is interested in mapping shrink desires that already exist in society. But we shouldn’t close our eyes to the opposite: shrink fears.

One of the more curious manifestations of this fear is the Koro Syndrome, the pathological fear that the genitals are shrinking into the body, sometimes unflatteringly called penis panic. The word Koro is Malayan and means the head of a turtle (or tortoise), referring to how it looks when they retract their heads into their shells. That’s quite funny but koro can be a serious mental disorder. Most patients report acute anxiety attacks due to perceived genital retraction or genital shrinkage, despite a lack of any objectively visible biological changes in the genitalia.

Curiously this syndrome not only occurs in individuals but has the tendency to cause mass panic. It is first mentioned in China (known there as ‘suo-yang‘) where it is cited in the ancient Chinese text ‘The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine‘, a traditional medical manuscript which dates from about 300 BC. Similar descriptions appear in Chinese volumes throughout the ages, and the idea exists as a folk belief among some Chinese and Asian peoples today.┬áMinor Koro epidemics have seized localised parts of Asia at various times, including a well documented 1967 outbreak in Singapore. Hospitals became inundated with men worried that their penises were shrinking into their body. Many had resorted to pegs, clamps and even a constant firm grip from concerned family members attempting to prevent the member from vanishing entirely.

If we become smaller, how do we deal with the fears, sensitivities and insecurities of men related to this particular bodypart?