Keywords: Koro syndrome, genital retraction syndrome, manhood, theft.
Genital Manhood Theft. What does it mean to steal someone’s manhood? Is koro a psychiatric condition? Do Nigerians suffer from koro? What can cause koro to occur? Are there treatment for koro syndrome?
To steal means to take away an object that belongs to another person without the person’s permission. And there is no intention of returning the stolen object.
Most often, the object stolen are usually not part of the owner’s body. But in recent times, body objects are being stolen via surgical methods, like the kidneys. For such procedures to happen, the owner of the body part is put to sleep or killed.
In the recent times, there have been incidents of people accusing others of having stolen their genital parts or breast. And these accusations happen in broad daylight, most often on the streets, without surgical procedures.
What does it mean to steal someone’s manhood?
Mike was walking along a very busy and crowded street in Lagos, where most people brushed past each other. Many people have been brushing past him, suddenly, one man dressed in a full agwada regalia brushed him by.
Suddenly, Mike felt a shock, fear, tremor and his heart started racing very fast. This was followed by stomach cramp, cramp at his scrotum and the feel of emptiness down at his genitals.
Then he screamed loudly, that his manhood has been stolen. This attracted a large crowd around him as he held the man in agwada. Mike kept on shouting, accusing the man of stealing his manhood for ritual purposes.
The crowd became fierce and descended on the man and beat him mercilessly. And before the police could arrive, the man laid lifeless on the street.
Mike was taken to the hospital by the police men to ascertain if Mike’s genital got missing. As Mike entered the hospital premises, he felt some movements around his genitals and he became calmer. He thus believed that his genitals has returned to him. And by the time he saw the doctor, the doctor told him and the police officers that Mike’s genitals were intact.
The officers were surprised at the outcome. But Mike told them that he felt his genitals restored as soon as they stepped into the hospital.
The news quickly spread like wild fire in Lagos that there is a brand new wave of ritualists in town. And that these ritualists, specialized in stealing people’s manhood. This got so many people agitated. And most men were seen walking on the streets with their hands in their pockets holding on to their manhood.
What Mike was suffering from is known as koro in the medical world.
Is koro a psychiatric condition?
Koro, also known as genital retraction syndrome, is a psychiatric disorder seen mainly in men. But some women can also have it.
In men, they complain of having their manhood shrinking, i.e. becoming shorter or smaller. They can also say that it is retracting into the abdomen, or that someone has stolen it.
Some will only complain of not having any feeling down below and that they have lost their sexual power. Thus they believe that they have become women or eunuchs. With these beliefs they have the fear that death is eminent.
When it does occur in women, they believe that their breasts are shrinking. Some women will say that their genitals are entering into the abdomen. And they have the fear that death is eminent.
These people have acute anxiety because of these false beliefs. Some people may believe that these occurred because they are being possessed by spirits or that they are bewitched.
The anxiety symptoms comes with the person feeling restless, sulking, feeling guilty and unable to concentrate. There are also palpitation or fast heart beats and sweating. Other symptoms include shaking, stomach cramp, and cramps at the scrotum. This individual will refuse to touch his genital to check for the manhood.
In actual fact, there are no visible biological changes in their genitals. But such false beliefs can last for hours, to days, or be persist for years.
Unfortunately, when these people make these complaints to their family members, the family members believe them. Then there is panic in the house.
To stop these organs from disappearing, the individual involved, may use rope to tie the organ to an external object. Some may use clamps to hold the organs. Even the family members may aid them in this.
Do Nigerians suffer from koro?
The disappearance or theft of men’s manhood have been reported severally in Nigeria. Many alleged “manhood thieves” are usually beaten to coma or death by the crowd in jungle justice.
In many cases, the individual will accuse a stranger who brushed by him on the road as being the thief. An individuals can also accuse a stranger who gave him a hand shake, as the manhood thief.
This whole issue of disappearing manhood is seen as a mysterious matter in Nigeria. And the people believe that the accused thief will use the male organ for occultic purpose.
The earliest documented case of koro in Nigeria was in 1975 in Kaduna. Then between 1975 and 1977, there was an epidemic of alleged manhood theft in Nigeria.
By 1990, the allegations reemerged. And in a typical incident, an individual would yell ‘thief, my genitals are gone.’ A culprit would be identified, held by the mob and, often, killed.
So most often in the streets of Lagos, men will be seen holding their genitals openly. But some did so by putting their hand in their pockets. Women also were seen protecting their breasts. Some were holding their breasts, by cupping, or by crossing the hands on their chests.
There was an incident in Bayelsa in 2020, when a man was falsely accused and nearly beaten to death. Another case occurred in Osun state, where angry mob killed 12 people accused of stealing people’s manhood for occultic purposes. This happened just because an individual raised an alarm that his manhood had disappeared.
These days, the problems of stolen manhood has died down. But what is being heard more now is that a person’s manhood has been rendered impotent and cannot become erect, due to witch craft.
What can cause koro to occur?
Koro occurs more often in cultures where so much emphasis is placed on the male gender. So that so much concerns are laid in the male genitals. Thus any slight problems or modifications in the genitals, raises anxiety that one may be losing power as a man. This is like losing power and respect as a man and losing the power to procreate.
The syndrome also occur in families where sexual matters are held in secrecy and surrounded by myths. Even religious belief about sexual matters can be a contributory factor. It is also more among young males who low levels of education. They can easily believe that genital manhood theft can happen.
It can also occur in the family where authoritarian parenting is the parenting method. And lack of sexual confidence can be a risk factor.
Having mental illnesses such as depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, as well as obsessive compulsive disorder can be predisposing factors. Even those that abuse substances are also at risk. But in such mental illnesses and drug abuse cases, what they have is koro like symptoms which last longer.
Also having body dismorphic disorder is a risk factor. In this case, the person will feel dissatisfied about his or her genitals, breast and other private parts.
Koro is also possible among people who believe in evil force causing the condition. This includes people that believe that human parts can be used in ritual purposes.
Are there treatment for koro syndrome?
Although koro symptoms are self-limiting after lasting few minutes or hours. For some people there can be reoccurrence of this genital manhood theft belief. And for some others, the symptoms can last much longer and even for years.
They treatment for koro requires the combination of a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist. The clinical psychologist will do psychoeducation on the patient to impart the knowledge and understanding about sexual matters.
Psychotherapy will be used to debunk cultural and religious myths concerning the body and sexuality. They also go through supportive psychotherapy in order to decrease guilt associated with Koro syndrome.
A psychiatrist is also needed to treat the preexisting mental illness that can be seen in some patients. And in many cases this may require a combination of medications.
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