What is Turabosis?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 February 2019
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Turabosis is a psychiatric disorder in which a patient becomes convinced that he or she is covered in sand. Most documentations of this disorder come from regions like Saudi Arabia, where sand is in ample supply, and people are exposed to stories about individuals who really have been buried in sand. Typically, treatment of turabosis relies on the use of psychiatric medicine to stabilize the patient, followed by talk therapy to address the roots of the disorder.

This condition is part of a family of delusional disorders which are classified as “somatic,” indicating that the central nervous system is involved. Delusional disorders, once known as “paranoia,” involve firmly held beliefs which actually have some logical basis, with no other known pathology. In the case of turabosis, for example, the sensation of being covered in sand could be caused by a nervous system disorder which was causing the nerves to send the wrong messages to the brain, but if this cause was eliminated, the illness would be termed psychiatric in nature.

Women appear to be more at risk for developing turabosis, and there appears to be a strong cultural factor to the condition which may also explain why women are more likely to experience it. Many extremely sandy nations also happen to have societies which are very repressive for women, and it is possible that patients translate their sensation of being figuratively buried into a delusion of being actually buried.


Turabosis is extremely rare, and generally easy to diagnose. No history of mental illness is required to diagnose the condition; instead, doctors focus on the symptoms as they manifest when presented. The sensation of being covered in sand may cause the patient to cry out or become very aggressive, which usually results in a consult with a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist may request the assistance of a neurologist to confirm that the condition is indeed psychiatric in origin, after which the psychiatrist can create a treatment plan for the patient.

Antidepressant drugs appear to be helpful for patients with turabosis, although it may take several courses of different drugs to find the right drug and dosage. Once the patient's immediate mental distress has been addressed, a psychiatrist or psychologist can start exploring the nature of the delusions, working with the patient with the goal of eventually dispelling the delusion altogether.



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