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At the Mother’s Breast: Amae, Hikikomori, and the Rejection of Conformity in Japanese Society
Transcript of At the Mother’s Breast: Amae, Hikikomori, and the Rejection of Conformity in Japanese Society
The phenomenon of
It’s a symptom, not an illness.
, defined by Saitō Tamaki as:
The Japanese sensitivity to
, according to Takeo Doi, originates in the relationship between a
mother and her infant
, making it possible for the mother to understand the infant mind and respond to its needs, so that mother and child can enjoy a sense of commingling and identity.
, and involves a reliance on others for gratification, specifically a person who
meets the need
This is generally "cute" behavior in children, but is considered negative when pointed out in adults.
Keep this in mind:
Essentially, above all else, the Japanese value
Doi elaborates that
“represents an attempt to
to the other person.”
It can be used to describe the relationship between lovers, friends, husband and wife, teacher and student, even employer and employee.
by Kristen Camille Ton
, and the Rejection of Conformity in Japanese Society
There are about
in Japan, but the real number is likely upward of
—that’s roughly 1% of Japan’s population.
, and they are usually
sons. Their parents are generally highly educated and have well-paying jobs.
A state that has become a problem
by the late twenties
, that involves cooping oneself up
in one’s own home
and not participating in society for
six months or longer
, but that
seem to have
another psychological problem
as its principle source.
-ing” or “He is
of the mother
not a stable, reciprocal relationship
in which people agree “I carry you, and you carry me.’ This is a relationship in which A supports B, and B uses A as a tool for his own satisfaction, and as a result it is one-sided and unstable.
can facilitate codependency
, where the
solely relies on his or her parents for support—and the parents are generally willing to concede to their child rather than seek outside help.
Relapsing to childhood
Well over 1/3 of
regress to infantile behavior
; for instance, if one such hikikomori’s desires are not met, if his or her
goes unfulfilled, this individual will become fussy, thrashing limbs and pleading with tears.
Who cares about social harmony anymore?
These youths are
dominant cultural values of
and consequently deviating in their motivation to conform to others’ behaviors.
Because they are not identifying with mainstream cultural values, they cannot maintain public face, and so avoid social interaction altogether.
Is it a culture-bound syndrome?
While it’s not uncommon for youths to reject society at large, this is simply how it manifests in Japan. Parents enable their children to live such a lifestyle where they can keep to their family homes. In America, youths who do not engage with society might be forced to live on the streets.