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Culture shock is a term that was developed to describe the feelings of anthropologists when encountering another culture with its new social norms, values and morals.

Culture shock was described as challenging fundamentals of their primary socialisation and some have defined it as personal maladjustment during an unsuccessful bid in adjusting to a new environment and peoples.

It has also been described as the consequence of large scale communication with strangers which produces uncertainty and anxiety which disrupt our self concepts and cultural identity.

Culture shock is also a two edged sword because the same time as the individual is disrupted by the other culture, their actions are called into question. The result is a feeling of rootlessness in which the individual has to suspend their identification with the cultural structures that create and reaffirm who we are in a societal and individual context.

The first reaction identified is ‘cultural fatigue’, whereby the afflicted person is irritable, has problems sleeping, and may have other disorders that stem from this psychological disturbance. The second reaction is a ‘sense of loss’ that is the result of being displaced from the familiar surroundings of ones home. The third reaction is the rejection by members of the new community. The fourth reaction is a feeling of impotence from being unable to deal competently with the environmental unfamiliarity.

In research literature the idea of culture shock has been presented in a very dramatic and graphic manner. Culture shock has been applied to extreme circumstances such as concentration camp] inmates, hostages, and prisoners of war. In these particular cases the culture shock is a result of involving heightened emotions and intense suffering. It has been associated with feelings of sympathy towards ones captors, and has been explained by some in terms of cognitive dissonance. In anthropology culture shock has been written about quite extensively and the results of the concentration of the exotic in other cultures, as it is the differences that are key in the feeling of culture shock.

These stages seem to stem from an inability of the newcomer to meet their needs of validation of their experiences. It has also been described as a self shock, whereby the dilemmas manifest themselves in result of the cognitive dissonance associated with what the newcomer expects in contrast with the realties of the situation. This inner conflict has also been ascribed to the shift in awareness of the duality between the subjective and the objective experience, so that the internal and external experience are not synchronised.