Akira Hashimoto
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Alcoholism, family and society in post-World War II Japan
in Alcohol, psychiatry and society
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This chapter examines the development of medical and social approaches to alcohol misuse in post-World War II Japan. It highlights the major role of the family in dealing with alcoholism. Because of economic growth, increase in national income and Westernisation of lifestyle, the country’s consumption of alcohol increased considerably, peaking in the mid-1990s, but has declined since then. The chapter examines Japanese notions of alcohol misuse and how doctors drew on Western theories and treatments while developing their own culturally congruent brands of therapeutic intervention. Hospital-centred medical approaches as well as patients’ and their families’ initiatives in dealing with alcohol-related problems (such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Danshukai and Naikan) are examined. The latter were influenced by Western psychotherapeutic practices to varying extents. For example, Danshukai, the most popular network of self-help groups in Japan, was originally inspired by Alcoholics Anonymous and North American concepts of group therapy. In Danshukai, family participation and support were considered to be of great value in establishing and maintaining abstinence. Naikan, an individual psychotherapy approach inspired by Buddhist values, was employed in the treatment of alcohol-related conditions from the 1970s. It became integrated into Japanese psychiatry and soon was found also in other Asian countries, Europe and the USA.

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Alcohol, psychiatry and society

Comparative and transnational perspectives, c. 1700–1990s

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