Sunday, December 6, 2015

Amae, Gaman

Interesting stuff: I am doing a research project on the State of Mental Health in Japan. One of the fundamental reasons Mental Health, I think, is so scarce is due to two concepts engrained into Japanese culture and society:
1. The concept of "amae"

The Anatomy of Dependence (甘えの構造 Amae no kōzō?) is a non-fiction book written by Japanese psychoanalyst Takeo Doi, discussing at length Doi's concept of amae, which he describes as a uniquely Japanese need to be in good favor with, and be able to depend on, the people around oneself. He likens this to behaving childishly in the assumption that parents will indulge you (Doi 2001:16), and claims that the ideal relationship is that of the parent-child, and all other relationships should strive for this degree of closeness (Doi 2001:39).
Amae (甘え) is the nominal form of the verb amaeru, which Doi uses to describe the behavior of a person attempting to induce an authority figure, such as a parent, spouse, teacher, or supervisor, to take care of him. The word is rarely used of oneself, but rather is applied descriptively to the behavior of other people. The person who is carrying out amae may beg or plead, or alternatively act selfishly while secure in the knowledge that the caregiver will indulge him. The behavior of children towards their parents is perhaps the most common example of amae, but Doi argued that child-rearing practices in the Western world seek to stop this kind of dependence, whereas in Japan it persists into adulthood in all kinds of social relationships.[1]
Doi developed this idea to explain and describe many kinds of Japanese behavior. However, Doi states that while amae is not just a Japanese phenomenon, the Japanese are the only people known to have an extensive vocabulary for describing it. The reason for this is that amae is a major factor in Japanese interaction and customs.[2] Doi argues that nonverbal empathic guesswork (sasshi 察し), a fondness for unanimous agreement in decision-making, the ambiguity and hesitation of self-expression (enryo 遠慮), and the tatemae–honne dynamics are communicative manifestations of the amae psychology of Japanese people.[3]
Doi translates amaeru as "to depend and presume upon another's benevolence." It indicates, for Doi, "helplessness and the desire to be loved." Amaeru can also be defined as "to wish to be loved", and denotes dependency needsAmae is, in essence, a request for indulgence of one's perceived needs.
Doi says,
"The psychological prototype of 'amae' lies in the psychology of the infant in its relationship to its mother; not a newborn infant, but an infant who has already realised that its mother exists independently of itself ... [A]s its mind develops it gradually realises that itself and its mother are independent existences, and comes to feel the mother as something indispensable to itself, it is the craving for close contact thus developed that constitutes, one might say, amae."[2]
According to Doi and others, in Japan the kind of relationship based on this prototype provides a model of human relationships in general, especially (though not exclusively) when one person is senior to another. As another writer puts it:
"He may be your father or your older brother or sister ... But he may just as well be your section head at the office, the leader of your local political faction, or simply a fellow struggler down life's byways who happened to be one or two years ahead of you at school or the university. The amae syndrome is pervasive in Japanese life."[4]
Amae may also be used to describe the behavior of a husband who comes home drunk and depends on his wife to get him ready for bed. In Japan, amae does have a connotation of immaturity, but it is also recognized as a key ingredient in loving relationships, perhaps more so than the notions of romance so common in the West.

And most importantly 2. The concept of "Gaman" which roughly is translated as "perseverance", "patience", tolerance, or "self-denial".[2] A related term, gamanzuyoi (我慢強い gaman-tsuyoi?), a compound with tsuyoi (strong), means "suffering the unbearable" or having a high capacity for a kind of stoic endurance.

"Gaman is also used in psychoanalytic studies[18] and to describe the attitudes of the Japanese. It is often taught to youth and largely used by older Japanese generations. Showing gaman is seen as a sign of maturity and strength. Keeping your private affairs, problems and complaints silent demonstrates strength and politeness as others have seemingly larger problems as well. If a person with gaman were to receive help from someone else, they would be compliant; not asking for any additional help and voicing no concerns."

This led me to this book called "Dependency and Japanese Socialization: Psychoanalytic and Anthropological Investigations Into Amae" by Frank A. Johnson. 

Also there is:
Taijin kyofusho (対人恐怖症 taijin kyōfushō, TKS, for taijin kyofusho symptoms), is a Japanese culture-specific syndrome. The term taijin kyofusho translates into the disorder (sho) of fear (kyofu) of interpersonal relations (taijin).[1] This culture-bound syndrome is a social phobia dealing with social anxiety. Those who have taijin kyofusho are likely to be extremely embarrassed of themselves or fearful of displeasing others when it comes to the functions of their bodies or their appearances. These bodily functions and appearances include their faces, odor, actions, or even looks. They do not want to embarrass other people with their presence. This culture-bound syndrome is based on fear and anxiety.[2]
The symptoms of this disorder include avoiding social outings and activities, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, panic attacks, trembling, and feelings of dread and panic when around people. The causes of this disorder are mainly from emotional trauma or psychological defense mechanism.[3][4] It is more common in men than women.[5] Lifetime prevalence is estimated at 3–13%.
Taijin kyofusho is commonly described as a form of social anxiety (social phobia), with the person dreading and avoiding social contact, and as a subtype of shinkeishitsu (anxiety disorder).[6] However, instead of a fear of embarrassing themselves or being harshly judged by others because of their social ineptness, sufferers of taijin kyofusho report a fear of offending or harming other people.[7][8] The focus is thus on avoiding harm to others rather than to oneself.
In the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), taijin kyofusho is listed under 300.2(F42) "Other Specified Obesessive Compulsive and Related Disorders".[9]
One source[which?] even breaks taijin kyofusho into two different subtypes: neurotic and offensive. The first subtype can be broken into two parts that are classical type and avoidant type. The classical type being afraid of being judged negatively because of physical signs of anxiety and feeling shame due to anxiety. The physical signs that can cause fear of being judged include sweating and tremors. The second subtype deals with people thinking something about them is offensive. Some of their fears include body odor, gas, excessive or insufficient eye contact, blushing, etc.
In the official Japanese diagnostic system, taijin kyofusho is subdivided into the following categories:[10]
Japan psychology also recognizes additional types of taijin kyofusho based on severity:
  • Transient: This type of taijin kyofusho is short-lived and moderately severe. It most commonly appears in teens, but may occur at any time.
  • Delusional: This is the most common type of taijin kyofusho and is the most similar to social phobia. It is chronic, often begins before the age of 30, and varies in severity from moderate to severe.
  • Phobic with Schizophrenia: This is a more complicated disorder. In such cases, rather than a phobia, taijin kyofusho is a manifestation of schizophrenic symptoms.[11]
A person may be diagnosed with taijin kyofusho if they feel as if their attitudes, behavior, and physical characteristics are inadequate in social situations. As a result of these feelings, they also experience persistent suffering in the form of emotional distress through shame, embarrassment, anxiety, fear, and other tense feelings that occur when confronted with social circumstances. In addition, individuals also worry about being unable to maintain healthy relationships with others. When it comes to socializing, taijin kyofusho sufferers avoid painful social and interpersonal situations, while simultaneously being averse to doing so.[5] Those likely to develop taijin kyofusho have more of a temperamental characteristic of being hypochondriacal.[13] The balance between introversion and extroversion in hypochondriacal temperament is geared more towards introversion. The introversion causes sufferers to focus on themself and problems they have, and by fixating on their weaknesses they become more anxious and depressed.[13]

1 comment:

  1. Is it possible that Amae is one of many reasons the cause of Taijin Kyofusho?