The Discrimination Against People With Schizoprenia In Japan

605 words - 3 pages

Schizophrenia is a mental illness which can be severely debilitating both for the person experiencing it and his or her social group. It is one of the principal reasons for loss of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) and years of life lived with disability in the age group 15-44 years (Sato 2006). The history of schizophrenia in Japan which was previously known as “Seishin Bunretsu Byo” (mind-split disease) carried with it a lot of stigma and very poor prognosis (Sato 2006). This also provided the term with a lot of implied meaning in Japanese society as even doctors unknowingly contributed to the stigma of schizophrenia by using terms such as “[...] jinkaku suijun no teika (a decline in the level of personality) often used to describe a feature ascribed to the larger domain of negative symptoms...These descriptions imply that the affected person’s personality has decayed and, consequently, that the process is irreversible.” (Takei et al 2005). Thus, the negative connotations and discriminatory implications attached to the age-old Japanese term of Seishin Bunretsu Byo led to the decision of changing the name to a more appropriate and suitable name “Togo Shitcho Sho” or Integration disorder in 2002, based on the vulnerability-stress model after a lot of discussion, involvement of families of those with mentally ill patients etc. (Sato 2006). After renaming, it was found that the frequency of giving this as a diagnosis increased as doctors were more comfortable with the term and letting their patients know of the disorder than with the previous term (Sato 2006). But why did such a drastic change occur based just on a psychiatric and diagnostic label? To answer this, the term Seishin Bunretsu Byo itself deserves a good look.
Kim and Berrios (2001) in their wonderful article “Impact of the Term Schizophrenia...

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