The term koro is quite common in Malay and Chinese populations. It is a delusional syndrome characterized by the belief that a male individual’s penis will retract into their abdomen and eventually result in death. But did you know this was a cause for concern for hundreds of men in Singapore back in 1967?
Several men in Singapore panicked in 1967 because they thought their penises were disappearing into their abdomens. They were truly fine but had fallen victim to Koro.
What is the Koro Disposition?
In Asia, Koro is referred to as genital retraction syndrome. People who suffer this sickness, also known as folk illness, are said to genuinely believe that their genitalia is retracting and may finally vanish.
The syndrome, not the penis, is temporary; instead, it is more of a sudden attack of worry that the penis may sink into the body and possibly result in death. Despite being prominent in several African and European countries, Koro is most prevalent in Southeast Asia, particularly among the Chinese communities
Individuals afflicted with Koro don’t experience physiologic changes in their genitalia. Still, sufferers may have an illusion of retraction that may continue for hours, days, or even years. Asians generally think losing their dicks is fatal and will therefore react with brutal force by clenching their manhoods firmly to the point of harm.
However, women are not shut out of Koro. In the female variant, ladies worry about nipples and vulva retracting. Similar to how they would react in real life, they would use force to stop an imagined shrinkage. In some instances, women have been seen sticking iron pins into their nipples to prevent this from happening. Just more bloody and less sterile. (Source: Coconuts)
Genital Retraction Syndrome of 1967
An unsettling rumor that claimed that consuming the meat of recently vaccinated pigs in a widespread effort to battle swine fever was the cause of Koro circulated online for weeks in October and November of that year. The rumor spread to the point where marketplaces, booths, and restaurants could not sell pork.
General practitioners were thus confronted with an average of 70 to 80 cases daily, compared to their lifetime limit of just one or two instances. They came in droves, clinging to their penises with hands, rubber bands, threads, clothes pegs, and other objects from around the house.
An account of one such case is provided below, taken from the British Medical Journal of 1968:
A typical case was that of a 16-year-old school boy who dashed into the clinic with his parents shouting for the doctor to attend to him quickly because he had Shook Yong. The boy looked frightened and pale, pulling hard on his penis to prevent the organ from disappearing into his abdomen.
The doctor explained and reassured both parents and the patient. A tablet of 10 mg of chlordiazepoxide was given at once, and he was sent home with two days of chlordiazepoxide. There was no recurrence.
The boy had heard about Koro in school. That morning he took ‘Pow,’ which contained pork, for breakfast. Then he went to pass urine and noticed his penis shrunk at the end of the micturition. Frightened, he quickly grasped the organ and rushed to his parents, shouting for help.
After initially hearing about Koro, it seems evident that everything is just fear-fueled imagination. Most cases were observed in persons under 20; when children were impacted, it was typically a result of a mother’s anxiety. Although sporadic instances of other ethnic groups going into hysterics, most of the epidemic’s victims were Chinese. (Source: Coconuts)