[INDOLOGY] Psychological effect of vāta-doṣa

Geoffrey Samuel SamuelG at cardiff.ac.uk
Sun Aug 28 20:39:07 UTC 2022

Dear Itamar

Matthew is correct in pointing to the psychological dimensions of rlung nad in Tibetan medicine. A few more recent references:

Jacobson, Eric. (2002). Panic attack in a context of comorbid anxiety and depression in a Tibetan refugee. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 26, 259–279.

Jacobson, Eric. (2007). Life-wind illness in Tibetan medicine: Depression, generalised anxiety and panic attack. In M. Schrempf (Ed.), Soundings in Tibetan medicine: Anthropological and historical perspectives (pp. 225–245). Leiden: Brill. (Proceedings of the 10th seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies (PIATS), Oxford September 6–12 2003).

Yoeli-Tlalim, Ronit (2010) Tibetan ‘wind’ and ‘wind’ illnesses: towards a multicultural approach to health and illness. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41, 318–324

Deane, Susannah (2018) Tibetan Medicine, Buddhism and Psychiatry: Mental Health and Healing in a Tibeatn Exile Community.  CArolina Academic Press.

Samuel, Geoffrey (2019) Unbalanced flows in the subtle body: Tibetan understandings of psychiatric illness and how to deal with it. Journal of Religion and Health (2019) 58:770–794

Rlung nad in Tibet is both a scholarly category and a colloquial term.  It covers more or less the area of anxiety and depression in Western psychiatry, but also includes physiological aspects and symptoms. There is certainly continuity with the Ayurvedic literature, as well as influence from the Tantric context.

Geoffrey Samuel
University of Sydney

On 24 Aug 2022, at 10:38 am, Matthew Kapstein via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info<mailto:indology at list.indology.info>> wrote:

Dear Itamar,

I do not know the Indic sources in this case, but the Tibetan equivalent, rlung nad (lit. "wind disease"), often refers to states of panic, paranoia, hyper-sensitivity, etc. A somewhat popular, but not erroneous, presentation of the issue may be found in Terry Clifford, Tibetan Buddhist Medicine and Psychiatry, pp. 132-136. Those more familiar with medical literature than I am may well have additional suggestions.


Matthew Kapstein
Directeur d'études, émérite
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris

Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
The University of Chicago



From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info<mailto:indology-bounces at list.indology.info>> on behalf of Itamar Ramot via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info<mailto:indology at list.indology.info>>
Sent: Wednesday, August 24, 2022 4:23 AM
To: indology at list.indology.info<mailto:indology at list.indology.info> <indology at list.indology.info<mailto:indology at list.indology.info>>
Subject: [INDOLOGY] Psychological effect of vāta-doṣa

Dear All,

Is anyone familiar with a none physical effect of vāta-doṣa? Dictionaries translate vāta as gout or rheumatism, but in the context where I found this term, it seems as if it should have a more psychological/mental effect, such as madness or delusion. Any suggestions?


Itamar Ramot
PhD Candidate, South Asian Languages and Civilizations
University of Chicago
itamarramot at uchicago.edu<mailto:itamarramot at uchicago.edu>

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