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2021/22 John Howes Lecture in Japanese Studies: Buddhism and Psychotherapy in Japan

March 8, 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm


In the 1910s, Kure Shūzō, the “father of Japanese psychiatry,” led a team that investigated throughout Japan traditional healing practices. In the 1918 report he coauthored, he advocated for state intervention to eradicate such practices at Buddhist temples. In the decades that followed, government policies pushed the mentally ill away from temples and monks and toward mental hospitals and psychiatrists. Yet, after 1945, Zen and Pure Land Buddhist ideas and practices shaped indigenous psychotherapies. To illustrate how, this talk focuses on Morita and Naikan therapies. It shows that, unlike mindfulness in North America, Buddhist-influenced psychotherapies in Japan attributed emotional suffering to self-centeredness and emphasized stronger social relations as a cure.