The Cold Truth About Arctic Hysteria

National Library of AustraliaWinter can seem to go on forever, and the prospect of perpetual cold may be more than you can handle.  Arctic Hysteria, was believed to be caused by the length and severity of winters in the far North.

Arctic Hysteria was first documented 1892 and  common to all Arctic regions. A person will shout nonsense, then tear off their clothes and run around naked, in spite of temperatures which may be thirty to 60 degrees below. After a couple of hours the person usually collapses and falls into a deep sleep, before making a complete recovery.

Some Western psychologists have classified pibloktoq (Arctic Hysteria) as a culture-bound condition unique to the Inuit, but there are cases in all culture/sex etc.

Theories range, psychoanalytic to calcium deficiency. One study suggests it may result from an excess of vitamin A from liver, kidneys and fat of arctic mammals and fish in the diet.

However, pibloktoq now appears to be a complex condition with no single simple causes. In other words, the long cold winter may be a factor after all.

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