Since the 1990s, suicide in recession-plagued Japan has soared, and rates of depression have both increased and received greater public attention. In a nation that has traditionally been uncomfortable addressing mental illness, what factors have allowed for the rising medicalization of depression and suicide? Investigating these profound changes from historical, clinical, and sociolegal perspectives, "Depression in Japan" explores how depression has become a national disease and entered the Japanese lexicon, how psychiatry has responded to the nation's ailing social order, and how, in a remarkable transformation, psychiatry has overcome the longstanding resistance to its intrusion in Japanese life. Questioning claims made by Japanese psychiatrists that depression hardly existed in premodern Japan, Junko Kitanaka shows that Japanese medicine did indeed have a language for talking about depression which was conceived of as an illness where psychological suffering was intimately connected to physiological and social distress.
The author looks at how Japanese psychiatrists now use the discourse of depression to persuade patients that they are victims of biological and social forces beyond their control; analyzes how this language has been adopted in legal discourse surrounding "overwork suicide"; and considers how, in contrast to the West, this language curiously emphasizes the suffering of men rather than women. Examining patients' narratives, Kitanaka demonstrates how psychiatry constructs a gendering of depression, one that is closely tied to local politics and questions of legitimate social suffering. Drawing upon extensive research in psychiatric institutions in Tokyo and the surrounding region, "Depression in Japan" uncovers the emergence of psychiatry as a force for social transformation in Japan.
List of Illustrations ix Acknowledgments xi Chapter One: Introduction: Local Forces of Medicalization 1 Part One: Depression in History 19 Chapter Two: Reading Emotions in the Body: The Premodern Language of Depression 23 Chapter Three: The Expansion of Psychiatry into Everyday Life 40 Chapter Four: Pathology of Overwork or Personality Weakness?: The Rise of Neurasthenia in Early-Twentieth-Century Japan 54 Chapter Five: Socializing the "Biological" in Depression: Japanese Psychiatric Debates about Typus Melancholicus 67 Part Two: Depression in Clinical Practice 83 Chapter Six: Containing Reflexivity: The Interdiction against Psychotherapy for Depression 89 Chapter Seven: Diagnosing Suicides of Resolve 107 Chapter Eight: The Gendering of Depression and the Selective Recognition of Pain 129 Part Three: Depression in Society 151 Chapter Nine: Advancing a Social Cause through Psychiatry: The Case of Overwork Suicide 155 Chapter Ten: The Emergent Psychiatric Science of Work: Rethinking the Biological and the Social 174 Chapter Eleven: The Future of Depression: Beyond Psychopharmaceuticals 193 References 201 Index 231