“Distinctly Japanese” – Political context of Nihonjinron, Nationalism

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  • In order to promote psychotherapy has to appear to be culturally specific
  • Modern anxieties of showing Japan as a world power
  • Rise of psychotherapy became a marker of how Japan was competing globally (Fruster)
  • (Fruster) Neurasthenia – primarily affected men caused by overpowering exhaustion surrounding sexual practices, suspected that result around masturbation – Japanese fear of masculinity, threatened men’s health and by implication social order and Japan’s national stability 19th century to mid 20th century
    • Often caused men to commit suicide, reflect fragility of the Japanese state
    • Focus on Japan’s military strength, suicide strength posed threat to military
    • Members of army were put on leave = claimed that it could potentially spread, like an infectious disease
    • Understood it as more prominent in the lower classes, due to lack of knowledge
    • Sex not for procreation but for longevity
  • Mid 20th century emergence of pharmaceutical companies – creations of drugs to help control, fear of affecting sex life – prominence of Viagra, legalised in 1999 to reassure Japanese men in the midst of economic crisis = took masculinity away
  • Dale = psychotherapists deliberately contributed to Japanese uniqueness, these therapies actively tried to suppress sense of self, promote the idea of the collective – everything, even sex lives, towards the collective longevity of imperial line
    • “the doctor describes desire to be different…as something to be treated”

 

 

  • Reflections in practice of Naikan therapy
    • What have I caused?
    • What have I received?
    • Expected outcome is clear in advance, gratitude, guilt/shame and interdependence = process of controlled reflection
      • V Carl Rogers influenced person centred therapy which holds you in high regard, you direct where the therapy goes/the end goal
    • Interdependence, politically ambiguous = cultivates obedience
    • Dependant origination = idea that anything in the world is the result of lots of difference causes coming together
  • Political ambiguity of these sorts of therapies
  • Japanese politics in the 1930s and 1940s = militarism, authoritarianism, failure of democracy, narrowing of the national discourse
    • Psychotherapeutic language, give up sense of self

 

  • Reflections in practice of Morita therapy
    • Rooted in a particular account of why people become ill
    • Critique of Western lifestyles
    • Ego centrism or vanity – played significant role, being self-obsessed root of mental illness
    • Excessive self-consciousness = have to be vain to have self-doubt, still thinking about yourself, not thinking of the collective
    • Invited literally to family home to be taught how to function within an ideal family, authority figure, some say he was like Jesus Christ
  • Price of modernity = loss of the Western soul
  • Watsuji Tetsurō = Western internal partitions solid, immovable, suggests definition of family close to pragmatic cohabitation, Japanese home partitions wood or paper, can be moved – organic whole definition of family, sometimes you make more sense together than you do individually
  • Arugamama = reality as it is before you try and think thoughts about it or push it around
    • Bed rest element to sit in reality as it is, no distractions
  • During Naikan therapy, when eating doctors play tapes of “ideal” confessions during meals to steer how they will respond
  • Doctors correct diaries of Morita patients = forcing patients to go down specific routes, steering and teaching people = authoritarian
    • Both quite didactic
  • Cultural expectation of having an authority figure involved in treatment, if just listening anyone could do that
  • Authoritarian overtones in treatments reflecting increase of authoritarianism in political sphere

Sophie Lawson’s group