By Karen Nakamura
Bethel condo, positioned in a small fishing village in northern Japan, was once based in 1984 as an intentional group for individuals with schizophrenia and different psychiatric issues. utilizing a different, neighborhood method of psychosocial restoration, Bethel residence focuses as a lot on social integration as on healing paintings. As a centerpiece of this procedure, Bethel residence all started its personal companies that allows you to create employment and socialization possibilities for its citizens and to alter public attitudes towards the mentally unwell, but additionally rather accidentally supplied an important enhance to the distressed neighborhood economic system. via its paintings courses, communal residing, and shut dating among clinic and city, Bethel has been remarkably profitable in rigorously reintegrating its individuals into eastern society. It has turn into referred to as a version replacement to long term institutionalization.
In A incapacity of the Soul, Karen Nakamura explores how the contributors of this special neighborhood fight with their lives, their health problems, and the that means of group. instructed via attractive ancient narrative, insightful ethnographic vignettes, and compelling existence tales, her account of Bethel condominium depicts its achievements and setbacks, its offers and obstacles.
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Extra info for A Disability of the Soul: An Ethnography of Schizophrenia and Mental Illness in Contemporary Japan
Etsuko pressed the intercom button and asked for us to be buzzed in. We walked past the nurses station, which was staffed by five or six nurses, all of whom seemed to be in their twenties. The Red Cross Hospital had an attached nursing school, which helped greatly in keeping their staffing levels up, although turnover was high, as many nurses left as soon as they could find jobs in more glamorous climes. Etsuko grabbed one of the patients, who agreed to show us around the closed psychiatric ward.
In the winter, I would help the missus at the church [Mrs. Michiko Miyajima] with the seaweed packaging piecework. In the spring, I’d go till the fields or pull up some weeds. In the summer, I’d help haul in the seaweed from the oceans. When I was in the hospital, I thought that there was no way that I could cook for myself. But after I was discharged, I gave it a try and was surprised that I could. I began to gain some confidence in myself. In the hospital, all I did was eat and sleep. I felt like I was losing myself.
But there was also a panoply of diagnosed and undiagnosed conditions at Bethel: bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression), borderline personality disorders, epilepsy, mental retardation, post-traumatic stress disorders, depression, alcoholism, and so forth. I am not a medical doctor or a social worker, so my intent in going into the Bethel community was not to diagnose anyone or to build case histories. I am also not interested in what Arthur Kleinman (1977) rightly criticizes as the ethnocentric “category fallacy” of trying to determine whether people with the Japanese medical diagnosis of to-go-shiccho-shohave what we in the United States would call schizophrenia.
A Disability of the Soul: An Ethnography of Schizophrenia and Mental Illness in Contemporary Japan by Karen Nakamura