Changing Attitudes toward the Mentally Ill and their Treatment in Japan

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Introduction Historically, the treatment of the mentally ill has often been poor around the world. Hospitals like Bethlehem Hospital (Bedlam) in London, Lunatics Tower in Vienna, and La Bicetre in Paris treated their patients notoriously bad. The “unbalanced” were locked in asylums, rarely released. Asylum patients were locked in chains, tourists visited the asylums to see inmates, and patients were sometimes feed spoiled food. This was due to the stigma against mental illness which lead to poor accommodations and forced incarcerations. In the west mental illness is still stigmatized, but less so. More often Westerners believe in a psychological perspective ion mental illness. The progression towards psychological understanding has been slower in Japan than in the West. Modern Japanese society still often stigmatizes mental illness, and the treatment of the mentally ill is affected. Traditional attitudes and treatments have changed slowly, and some attitudes and treatments have been retained. Religious beliefs, such as Buddhism and Shinto also influence how people conceive of and treat mental illness. Concern for the treatment of the mentally ill, and interest in psychological perspectives and theories has increased over recent decades. Movements have been made attempting to increase awareness and improve mental health care. The unique culture of Japan influences the sometimes subpar treatment of the mentally ill. However, it may also be a necessary part of the treatment of Japanese mental patients. Attitudinal barriers in Japan are different than in the West. Culture has created different realities. In both cultures rates of mental illness are the same for each gender. Diseases like Depression, Body Dimorph... ... middle of paper ... ...with depression. (Comer, 2010, p.284) Mental health patients can also be prejudiced against their own illnesses, and themselves. This contributes to over hospitalization and social withdrawal. As one Japanese patient said, “I understand that sometimes healthy people put a curtain on mentally ill patients. But I think the sad thing is that sometimes, we patients isolate ourselves from regular people with a curtain, too.” (Seishin) Traditionally, treatment of the mentally ill has been lacking in Japan. Over prescribing drugs, suicide, fear of disclosing illness, stigma, withdrawal, and over hospitalization still exist in modern Japan. But current movements like assertive community treatment, suicide prevention centers, psychological awareness campaigns, and movements toward community and in-home care suggest a better future for mental health care in Japan.

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