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Culture And Mental Illness Essay

2467 words - 10 pages

Amae serves as the foundational root of the Japanese psychological mentality. Tokeo Doi, akin to Liah Greenfeld, focuses on certain words and relates them to the psychological development of a certain population. In Doi’s case, he emphasizes the significance of the root word amae and its subsequent branches and relates them to the Japanese society. While Amae is a word that is found exclusively in the Japanese vocabulary, it describes a psychological phenomenon that is common to mankind as a whole. Starting with infancy and surviving throughout a lifetime, amae is the source of the need to be loved and to be cared for by another. Consequently, amae plays an important role in an individual’s social interactions and becomes a driving force for relationships. Amae, however, could also be the source of psychiatric disorders for people who have an exaggerated sense of amaeru, or for those who were completely deprived of it. In short, Doi provides an adequate explanation to individualistic cases of psychiatric disorders; however, his explanation of amae does not completely extend to the reaction of the masses to natural catastrophes such as the tsunami.
Understanding the depth of amae in the Japanese mentality, specifically, can provide an explanation for events that occur in Japan. While amae basically verbalizes the lifelong need for mutual dependence and “passive love”, not every individual is capable of reaching amaeru. It is particularly frustrating for those individuals who adamantly seek such relationships and yet fail to achieve it. Those individuals with an exaggerated need for indulgent dependency, or those absolutely deprived of it, have a higher chance of being afflicted by pathologies. According to Doi, the symptomatology expressed by those individuals is essentially mind ploys aimed at avoiding the failure of actualizing those dependent relationships. When the individual does not amaeru as much as they would like to they embrace what Doi terms as suneru. The symptomology of Japanese schizophrenic patients usually revolves around emotional indifference and social withdrawal. Angered and frustrated from their failure, conflicted individuals fall into the pathological realm of amaeru, which includes schizophrenia, among other disorders, as a consequence of not receiving adequate amae.
In northern Japan, a community that would promote inclusiveness and interdependence came to exist. This community, known as Bethel House, was intended for schizophrenic people and people with psychiatric disorders. The concept of amae and Bethel House’s treatment methods intertwine in order to help afflicted people in the community to cope with their disorders. In Nakamura’s documentary, it is observable how the Bethel House incorporates people with disabilities into daily activities managed by the House’s therapists. Having people, who are deprived from amae, engage in inclusive meetings and exercises is the essence of Bethel’s therapy method. People who...

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