Latah, from Southeast Asia, is a condition in which abnormal behaviors result from a person experiencing shock. When surprised, the affected person typically engages in such behaviors as screaming, cursing, dancing type movements, and uncontrollable laughter.
It is called melatah in Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia and many people, regardless of age or gender have this condition. Even though it is not dangerous, it may cause harm to the person and the people around them due to their random movements and shoutings.
Persons with Latah make movements reminiscent of behaviors normally peculiar to certain childhood developmental stages.
Similar conditions have been recorded within other cultures and locations. For example, there are the so-called Jumping Frenchmen of Maine, the women of the Ainu people of Japan (imu),[clarification needed] the Siberian (miryachit), and the Filipino[clarification needed] and Thai[clarification needed] peoples; however, the connection among these syndromes[clarification needed] is controversial.
In popular culture
William S. Burroughs mentions Latah several times in his 1959 novel Naked Lunch, "a parody of modern mass man under modern conditioning programmes of advertising and public[ly] induced morality", according to Eric Mottram. Burroughs described Latah as involving echopraxia, as well as being forcibly induced rather than spontaneously occurring.
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